Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Ever-Living, Ever-Praying Son

We read Psalm 119 today: “My soul cleaveth to the dust: quicken Me according to Thy word...My soul melteth for heaviness: raise me up according to Thy Word...behold, I desire Thy commandments: quicken Me in Thy is My comfort in My trouble; for Thy promise hath quickened Me...let Thy tender mercies come unto Me, that I may live: for Thy Law is My delight...My soul fainted for Thy salvation: yet I wait for Thy word. Mine eyes fail for Thy promise, saying, ‘When wilt Thou comfort me?’ For I am like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget Thy statutes...quicken Me according to Thy loving kindness: so shall I keep the testimony of Thy mouth...I will never forget Thy precepts: for by them Thou hast quickened Me...I am very sore afflicted: O Lord, quicken Me according to Thy Word...stablish Me according to Thy promise, that I may live, and disappoint Me not of Mine hope...the righteousness of Thy testimonies is everlasting: grant Me understanding, and I shall live...hear My voice according to Thy loving kindness: O Lord, quicken Me according to Thy judgment...plead My cause, and deliver Me: quicken Me according unto Thy Word...consider, O Lord, how I love Thy precepts: quicken Me according to Thy loving kindness...let My soul live, and it shall praise Thee, and Thy judgments shall help Me” (Psalm 119:25,28,40,50,77,81-83,88,93,107,116,144,149,154,159,175, Geneva Bible).

Jesus would have lived His life reading, singing, and praying the Psalms (like all of God’s Church through the ages). He taught us that these Psalms spoke of Him (Luke 24:44). As we read the petition for life – the Word of God prayed by the Word made flesh – we know that His Father heard and honored His prayers (Hebrews 5:7), for He lives. Hear Him pray in the Word; let His prayer become yours. Search the Scripture. Every page speaks of Him (John 5:39).

He prayed for life. His Father heard. He has not stopped praying for life, and His Father will never stop hearing His beloved Son: “He is able also perfectly to save them that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth, to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

Come to the Father by the ever-living, ever-praying Son today. He lives.
"Christ in Gethsemane," Michael D. O'Brian (b. 1948)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Boycott.

Why I have never been, am not, and will not be much of a boycotter: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler - not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. ‘Remove the wicked man from among yourselves [an allusion to the Law in places like Deuteronomy 13:5; 17:7; 21:21]’” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).

Remember: never be surprised when unbelievers act/think like unbelievers; it is a harmful twisting of the Gospel to expect them to act/think like believers. The calling is to “preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1:23,24). May we, on the other hand, never cease being surprised when believers act/think like unbelievers; a church discipline motivated by love with a goal of repentant reconciliation should be the standard rather than boycotting the Christ-less lost. Preach Christ to the lost and the wayward baptized. Preach Christ, calling them to repentance and faith in the only God-given salvation before the holy, righteous Judge of the universe.

Preach Christ.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God...He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:16-21,36).

Preach Christ.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8-10).

Preach Christ.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Jesus the Shepherd

“The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23:1, Geneva Bible).

“For thus saith the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will search My sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd searcheth out his flock, when he hath been among his sheep that are scattered, so will I seek out My sheep and will deliver them out of all places, where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day, and I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel, by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed My sheep, and bring them to their rest,’ saith the Lord God. ‘I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen the weak...and I will set up a shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even My servant David [the Shepherd is both God, 34:11-15, and David, 14:23 – this can only be Christ, Son of God and Son of David], He shall feed them, and He shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David shall be the Prince among them, I the Lord have spoken it’” (Ezekiel 34:11-16,23,24). Jesus is that ruling Son of David (Matthew 1:1; 9:27; 15:22; 20:30,31; 21:9,15; 22:41-45; Mark 10:47,48; 12:35-37; Luke 1:32,69; 18:38,39; 20:41-44; Revelation 3:7; 5:5; 22:16).

“...I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My people, and I will be their God. And David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them” (Ezekiel 37:23,24).

“But he that goeth in by the door [of the sheepfold], is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he hath sent forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice...I am that good shepherd: that good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep...I am that good shepherd, and know mine, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth Me, so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for My sheep. Other sheep I have also, which are not of this fold: them also must I bring, and they shall hear My voice: and there shall be one sheepfold, and one shepherd” (John 10:2-4,11,14-16, Geneva Bible).

“The God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting Covenant, make you perfect in all good works, to do His will, working in you that which is pleasant in His sight through Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise forever and ever, Amen” (Hebrews 13:20,21).

“For hereunto ye are called: for Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that ye should follow His steps, Who did no sin, neither was there guile found in His mouth. Who when He was reviled, reviled not again: when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed it to Him that judgeth righteously. Who His own self bare our sins in His body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live in righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray: but are now returned unto the Shepherd...of your souls” (1 Peter 2:21-25).

Psalm 23 is not a song to a nameless Shepherd, but to Jesus, the only Shepherd to the sheep. Confess Him to be your Lord, Savior, and Shepherd this day.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Soul-Restoring Law in Redemptive History

“The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul [משיבת נפש](Psalm 19:7, Geneva Bible).

“And the women said unto Naomi, ‘Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, and his name shall be continued in Israel. And this shall bring thy life again [למשיב נפש], and cherish thine old age: for thy daughter-in-law which loveth thee, hath borne unto him, and she is better to thee than seven sons.’ ...and the women her neighbors gave it a name, saying, ‘There is a child born to Naomi, and called the name thereof Obed’: the same was the father of Jesse, the father of David” (Ruth 4:14,15,17).

The Levirate marriage commanded by the Law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) not only restored life to Naomi by giving her dead son a child through Ruth and Boaz (so that his name would not disappear), but eventually restored life to all those among the peoples of the earth who put their faith in the Child Whose genealogy traces back to Obed, “father of Jesse, the father of David,” the father according to the flesh of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5,6,16-18).

Consider “the Gospel of God...concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared mightily to be the Son of God, touching the Spirit of sanctification by the resurrection from the dead...I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Grecian. For by it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:1-4,16,17).

The Law of the Lord is perfect, for God used it to guide redemptive history to the moment where He took on flesh and dwelt among us (“...when He cometh into the world, He saith, ‘...a body hast Thou ordained Me,’” Hebrews 10:5), exactly according to the Father’s eternal plan for our salvation. Live by faith in Him today, for His Law restores the soul.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The How and Who of Our Inheritance

“The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou shalt maintain my lot” (Psalm 16:5, Geneva Bible).

He gives it by the means of His Word through His servants to His Church: “And now brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build further, and to give you an inheritance, among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

He gives it by the means of His Word through His servants to His Church: “...I have appeared unto thee for this purpose to appoint thee a minister and a witness, both of the things which thou hast seen, and of the things in the which I will appear unto thee, delivering thee from this people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them, which are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:16-18).

He gives it by the means of His Word through His servants to His Church: “...we, which first trusted in Christ, should be unto the praise of His glory: in Whom also ye have trusted, after that ye heard the Word of truth, even the Gospel of your salvation, wherein also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, for the redemption of that liberty purchased unto the praise of His glory. Therefore also after that I heard of the faith, which ye have in the Lord Jesus, and love toward all the Saints, I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that Father of glory, might give unto you the Spirit of wisdom, and revelation through the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of your understanding may be lightened, that ye may know what the hope is of His calling, and what the riches of his glorious inheritance is in the Saints” (Ephesians 1:12-18).

He gives it by the means of His Word through His servants to His Church: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance immortal and undefiled, and that withereth not, reserved in heaven for us, which are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, which is prepared to be showed in the last time...even the salvation of your souls. Of the which salvation the Prophets have inquired and searched, which prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, searching when or what time the Spirit which testified before of Christ which was in them, should declare the sufferings that should come unto Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they should minister the things, which are showed unto you by them which have preached unto you the Gospel by the holy Ghost sent down from heaven...being born anew, not of mortal seed, but of immortal, by the word of God, Who liveth and endureth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man is as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth away. But the word of the Lord endureth forever: and this is the Word which is preached among you” (1 Peter 1:3-5,9-12,23-25).

The Lord comes to us as our everlasting, blood-bought, Spirit-sealed inheritance through the preaching of the Word of God by His servants to His Church. “I will praise the Lord, Who hath given me counsel...I have set the Lord always before me: for He is at my right hand: therefore I shall not slide. Wherefore mine heart is glad, and my tongue rejoiceth: my flesh also doth rest in hope...Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is the fullness of joy: and at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:7-9,11).
Steeple Rock, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sensational Misnomerism

“The Pope of Rome cannot in any sense be head of the Church, but he is that antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, who exalts himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God, who the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of His coming” (1689 Baptist Confession, 26.4).

I am a Reformed Baptist, and the 1689 Baptist Confession is my confession of faith. I cannot abide by this one statement, but not for the reasons you think.

Antichrist is not to be confused with the Beast of Revelation. “Antichrist” is not mentioned in the Revelation at all, and the biblical attributes of both are not similar.

I think what you mean when you call the Pope or the Roman Catholic Church “antichrist” is actually “Babylon the whore.” I don’t make this connection – I believe Revelation’s whore to be A.D. 1st century Jerusalem up to the point of its destruction: “...the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified [this can only be said about one "great city," and it's not Rome]...the great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath...the waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled. The woman whom you saw is the great city...woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come...then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer’” (Revelation 11:8; 16:19; 17:15-18; 18:10,21).

Antichrist is a heretical doctrine found in the A.D. 1st century, arising within the church and then leaving it. It is a lie about the nature of Christ (seemingly denying His humanity). READ 1 John 2:18-23; 4:1-6; 2 John 7-11.

I am continually baffled and saddened by the use of the term “antichrist” in any discussion of "contemporary eschatology" (consider what the Apostle said almost 2,000 years ago in 1 John 2:18!!). I don’t understand confusing “antichrist” with Revelation’s “beast,” since the term “antichrist” does not occur in Revelation and does not refer to a civil governmental individual, but a heretical doctrine inside the church.

So much muddiness!

I am disappointed with all the Protestants who are happily making much of the election of this new Pope and getting worked up by the few Reformed brethren who are yelling “antichrist.” The Reformed are reminding us that we are Protestant because we don’t believe the Roman Catholic Church to be the true (much less “universal,” the meaning of “Catholic”) church. If your sense of denominationalism or theology has degenerated to the point that you can’t tell or articulate the difference between Protestants and Catholics, please join the Catholic Church. You’ll be far less of an embarrassment to the rest of us and won’t dishonor the memory of those who died to make it possible for you to not be Roman Catholic. Honestly confused over the issue? Give something like R.C. Sproul’s “Are We Together?” a read.

I am disappointed with my fellow Reformed brethren as Francis I begins his...reign (?). My brothers who today are yelling “antichrist” were actively campaigning for Romney the Mormon last year. This inconsistency is disappointing. Who the Pope is has far less impact or importance to us as Protestants than who sits in the White House. Fail, my dear brothers. Even apart from the biblical malpractice concerning "antichrist," fail.

So as not to end this post on this grievous note (having offended RCC friends, fellow Protestants, my Reformed brothers and sisters, and even Republican Christians), let me say this: the election of Francis I and all the reactions to it has been a sobering and always needful reminder that the work of studying, teaching, and preaching the Word of God is never done and will never become superfluous in the life of the Church.

Further up and further in. READ Ephesians 4:1-16; 2 Timothy 4:1-4.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Being Taught Whole-Heart Worship by God Himself

“I will praise the Lord with my whole heart: I will speak of all Thy marvelous works. I will be glad, and rejoice in Thee: I will sing praise to Thy Name, O most High” (Psalm 9:1,2, Geneva Bible). David, through the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, reminds us that “whole-heart praise” includes telling of His righteousness and judgment. “...Thou hast destroyed the wicked: Thou hast put out their name forever and ever...the Lord shall sit forever: He hath prepared His throne for judgment. For He shall judge the world in righteousness, and shall judge the people with equity...the Lord is known by executing judgment: the wicked is snared in the work of His own hands...the wicked shall turn into hell, and all nations that forget God...put them in fear, O Lord, that the heathen may know that they are but men” (9:5,7,8,16,17,20). Is this why we don’t sing the Psalms, because without selective editing they can quickly become uncool and embarrassing to our modern cultural sensibilities? These lyrics don’t bring the tears or give us warm fuzzies, do they? Hard to be seeker-sensitive and attract the crowds (or even keep the established crowds!!) when this is the stuff on the projector screen, eh?

Maybe this in part is what Paul has in mind when he speaks of the changing of the heart in the gathering of the Church and includes Psalm-singing in part of the worship line-up. “...if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is rebuked of all men, and is judged of all, and so are the secrets of his heart made manifest, and so he will fall down on his face and worship God, and say plainly that God is in you indeed. What is to be done then, brethren? when ye come together, according as every one of you hath a Psalm, or hath doctrine, or hath a tongue, or hath revelation, or hath interpretation, let all things be done unto edifying” (1 Corinthians 14:24-26). “Edifying” is not a building up of self-esteem or positive feelings or anything psychological. It is the Spirit’s building a people firmly in Christ according to His (the Spirit’s) will, using the Spirit's Word (in the Psalms, for example!).

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is Lord only, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt rehearse them continually unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou tarriest in thine house, and as thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up: And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. Also thou shalt write them upon the posts of thine house, and upon thy gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). “These words,” which form the foundation of whole-hearted love and worship (see Psalm 119:2,10,34,58,69,145), aren’t to be subjected to our editing when we speak of them through the week or when we gather as His people (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32).

When certain aspects of His Word – as it testifies to Him – are excluded from our daily devotion, meditation, or teaching throughout the week, it is half a god we are loving with half a heart. When the uncool and uncomfortable parts of His Word – as it testifies to Him – are excised from our worship in the gathering, it is half a god we are praising with half a heart. He is infinitely more worthy than this, isn’t He, beloved Church?

“And that thou hast known the holy Scriptures of a child, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through the faith which is in Christ Jesus. For the whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable to teach, to convince, to correct, and to instruct in righteousness, that the man of God may be absolute, being made perfect unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:15-17). The “holy Scriptures” upon which Timothy was raised would have been the Old Testament Scriptures. These are the Scriptures, including the Psalms (Luke 24:44,45), from which the early Church preached and worshiped Christ! This included the stuff about judgment and righteousness...and Christ’s hatred of lawlessness (Hebrews 1:8,9//Psalm 45:6,7), for example.

“Again He appointed in David a certain day, by ‘Today,’ after so long a time, saying, as it is said, ‘This day, if ye hear His voice, harden not your hearts [a quote from Psalm 95:7-11, not a song that leaves us unchallenged!].’ For if Jesus [modern translations render this “Joshua”] had given them rest, then would he not after this have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God...let us study therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of disobedience. For the Word of God is lively, and mighty in operation, and sharper than any two edged sword, and entereth through, even unto the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit, and of the joints, and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts, and the intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature, which is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open unto his eyes, with Whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:7-13). The Scriptures - including the Psalms - are not given to make us comfortable or give us an emotion buzz, but to engage us as a people on the road to conformity to Christ.

I’m not hating on the Church; I love the Church and have devoted much time and heart and pains to defending her with the Scriptures. I’m not making fun of modern worship leaders. I’ve been one. I know how easy it is to gravitate toward songs that bring a certain emotional reaction (the primary criterion for how we evaluate whether God has been present with us or not in power). I'm not arguing against the songs written by the Church from the last 2,000 years (new or old). I am lovingly suggesting that we all return to an inclusion of the Psalter in some way into both our individual lives as disciples and our gathering as His people (a rejection of systematic liturgy may be the modern worship equivalent to there being no king in Israel – Judges 17:6; 18:1; 21:25). May our worship have a solid infusion of what God the Holy Spirit has given us for praise, and may that teach us discernment as we include non-revelatory elements. We have not outgrown the song-book of the entire Bible (not just the Old Testament) in our spiritual maturity! We are all to be growing toward Him more and more, and sometimes that means stepping out of the modern stream and taking steps toward that which has been given us in the Word for our worship.

Learning from God the Holy Spirit in His Word how to worship a whole God from the Scripture’s songs about this whole God surely is a wise first step in learning how to “praise the Lord with our whole heart.”
Postscript: A desire to be fed of the Holy Spirit through His Word in song is a reason I listen to the guys signed to the Lamp Mode label on the one hand, and Fernando Ortega's efforts in the albums "The Shadow of Your Wings" and "Come Down O Love Divine" on the other. Very different musical styles (hard to imagine two more divergent!!), but should stylistic concerns be the most important when it comes to "being fulfilled with the Spirit, speaking unto yourselves in Psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs" (Ephesians 5:19,20)?

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Reign of the Image of God

It’s a beautiful rainy morning here in the high desert as I sit with a cup of coffee and the Word, considering God’s image and how that image is the story of His Kingdom’s reign over all.

“What is man, say I, that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that Thou visitest him? For Thou hast made him a little lower than God, and crowned him with glory and worship. Thou hast made him to have dominion in the works of Thine hands, Thou hast put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:4-6, Geneva Bible).

Dominion, the command of God to Adam, failed in man the Image’s rebellion (Genesis 3:1-24).
  • “Furthermore God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness, and let them rule’...thus God created the man in His image: in the image of God created He him: He created them male and female. And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Bring forth fruit, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:26-28).

Dominion, the command of God to Christ, victorious in God-man the Image’s death and resurrection.
  • “Moreover brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which ye have also received, and wherein ye continue, and whereby ye are saved, if ye keep in memory, after what manner I preached it unto you, except ye have believed in vain. For first of all, I delivered unto you that which I received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He arose the third day, according to the Scriptures...since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive...for He must reign till He hath put all His enemies under His feet...for He hath put down all things under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4,21,22,25,27).
  • “Let the same mind be in you that was even in Christ Jesus, Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God: But He made Himself of no reputation, and took on Him the form of a servant, and was made like unto men, and was found in shape as a man. He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto the death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath also highly exalted Him, and given Him a name above every name. That at the Name of Jesus should every knee bow, both of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, unto the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).
  • “At sundry times and in divers manners God spake in the old time to our fathers by the Prophets: in these last days He hath spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He hath made heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds, Who being the brightness of the glory, and the engraved form of His person, and bearing up all things by His mighty word: hath by Himself purged our sins: and sitteth at the right hand of the Majesty in the highest places...unto the Son He saith, ‘O God, Thy throne is forever and ever: the scepter of Thy kingdom is a scepter of in a certain place witnessed, saying, ‘What is man, that Thou shouldest be mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou wouldest consider him? Thou madest him a little inferior to the Angels: Thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and hast set him above the works of Thine hands. Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.’ And in that He hath put all things in subjection under Him, He left nothing that should not be subject unto Him...but we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor, which was made little inferior to the Angels, through the suffering of death, that by God’s grace He might taste death for all men” (Hebrews 1:1-3,8; 2:6-9).

Dominion, the command of God the Christ to His Church, unstoppable in Christ-Church the Image’s lifting up of the Word everywhere in the Spirit’s power.
  • “As I beheld in visions by night, behold, one like the son of man came in the clouds of heaven, and approached unto the Ancient of days, and they brought Him before Him. And He gave Him dominion, and honor, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall never be taken away: and His dominion shall never be destroyed...they shall take the kingdom of the Saints of the most High, and shall possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever...the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the Saints of the most High: and the time approached, that the Saints possessed the kingdom...the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the holy people of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all powers shall serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:13,14,18,22,27).
  • “And Jesus came, and spake unto them, saying, ‘All power is given unto Me, in heaven, and in earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, until the end of the world, Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • “Therefore also after that I heard of the faith, which ye have in the Lord Jesus, and love toward all the Saints, I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that Father of glory, might give unto you the Spirit of wisdom, and revelation through the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of your understanding may be lightened, that ye may know what the hope is of His calling, and what the riches of His glorious inheritance is in the Saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us, which believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and domination, and every name that is named, not in this world only, but also in that that is to come, and hath made all things subject under His feet, and hath given Him over all things to be the head to the Church, which is His body, even the fullness of Him that filleth all in all things” (Ephesians 1:15-23).
  • “And they sung a new song, saying, ‘Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof, because Thou wast killed, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us unto our God Kings, and Priests, and we shall reign on the earth’” (Revelation 5:9,10).
Confess Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved. All those who call on Him shall be saved; not one will be disappointed. Be baptized in the name of God the Trinity, obeying Him in grateful love in the power of His Spirit in unity with His Church, spreading His Word throughout the world, for His glory forever and ever.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Christ the Rock

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). This morning in Thursday Theology we followed the apostle Paul from here to Exodus 17 and worshiped in the Word, seeing Christ in the rock of Horeb. CLICK HERE to take a listen.

Escaping the Hunting Lion

“O Lord my God, in Thee I put my trust: save me from all that persecute me, and deliver me, lest he devour my soul like a lion, and tear it in pieces, while there is none to help” (Psalm 7:1,2, Geneva Bible).

Put all your trust in God the Son, Who intercedes for us that our faith will not fail, and not just for our own good: “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired you, to winnow you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: therefore when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren’” (Luke 22:31,32).

Simon Peter learned deeply of the intercession of the Lord in the face of the enemy who is like a roaring, tearing lion: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your care on Him: for He careth for you. Be sober, and watch: for your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour...resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren which are in the world. And the God of all grace, which hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a little, make you perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever, amen” (1 Peter 5:6-11).

Put your trust this day in the interceding God the Son, Who alone saves and delivers by representing us before God the Father, Who sends forth God the Holy Spirit to help those who belong to His Son by faith.
  • “What shall we then say to these things? If God be on our side, who can be against us? Who spared not His own Son, but gave Him for us all to death, how shall He not with Him give us all things also? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s chosen? It is God that justifieth. Who shall condemn? It is Christ which is dead: yea, or rather, which is risen again, Who is also at the right hand of God, and maketh request also for us(Romans 8:31-34).
  • “Wherefore, He is able also perfectly to save them that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth, to make intercession for them. For such an high Priest it became us to have, which is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:25,26)
  • “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not: and if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just(1 John 2:1).
Apart from the Son Who intercedes, we have no hope to escape the lion who is hunting us this day, child of God. Trust Him as your Intercessor, not trusting in your own strength or wisdom. Draw near to the Son on the day of the prowling lion.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why God's Children Have Enemies

“O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine anger, neither chastise me in Thy wrath. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak: O Lord heal me, for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore troubled: but Lord, how long wilt Thou delay? Return, O Lord: deliver my soul: save me for Thy mercy’s sake” (Psalm 6:1-4, Geneva Bible).

This is how David describes his enemies (6:7,8,10) – not as unfair persecutors, but as instruments of God’s anger and wrath. This is not unloving anger and wrath, for David recognizes the Lord to be simultaneously a merciful soul Who hears the prayers of His covenant people for deliverance: “The Lord hath heard my petition: the Lord will receive my prayer” (6:9).
The Lord uses even the enemy to bring us closer to Himself: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin [in the sense of sinners, see 12:1-3]. And ye have forgotten the consolation, which speaketh unto you as unto children, ‘My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, neither faint when thou art rebuked of Him. For whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth: and He scourgeth every son that He receiveth.’ If ye endure chastening, God offered Himself unto you as unto sons: for what son is it whom the father chasteneth not? If therefore ye be without correction, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Moreover we have had the fathers of our bodies which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: should we not much rather be in subjection unto the father of spirits, that we might live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, but he chastened us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastising for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: but afterward, it bringeth the quiet fruit of righteousness, unto them which are thereby exercised. Wherefore lift up your hands which hang down, and your weak knees, and make straight steps unto your feet, lest that which is halting, be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without the which no man shall see the Lord. Take heed, that no man fall away from the grace of God: let no root of bitterness spring up and trouble you, lest thereby many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:5-15).

Even if our enemies are unjust in their actions/accusations/annoyances, we are never without need of correction from God on this side of eternity. It’s not about our enemies, it’s about the God Who’s teaching us to rely on Him and seek Him out more and more. Turn away from self-righteousness/defensiveness in the face of the enemy and seek the One Who purchased you with His blood – this is why God has put these enemies around you. In the name of Jesus, the Lord will hear your petition; the Lord will receive your prayer.

Learn this basic truth of discipleship and divine adoption in Christ and you’ll rest more and more in the love and mercy of God, no matter the hateful noise of the enemy.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Praying to the Only King

“Hear my words, O Lord: understand my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, MY KING AND MY GOD: for unto Thee do I pray. Hear my voice in the morning, O Lord: for in the morning will I direct me unto Thee, and I will wait” (Psalm 5:1-3, Geneva Bible).

There is one King, and His name is Jesus, for He has saved His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
There is one King, and He is the eternal Son of God (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; 12:6; Luke 3:22; 20:13; John 17:5,24; Colossians 1:13) and God the Son (John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8).
There is one King, and His Kingdom is over all the heavens and the earth (Matthew 28:18).
There is one King, and His Kingdom will never end (Psalm 145:13; Daniel 2:44; 4:3; 6:26; 7:14; Luke 1:32,33; Revelation 11:15).
There is one King, and He is King over all the kings, princes, lords, and rulers of the earth (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 1:5; 17:14; 19:16).
There is one King, and He is also our only Mediator and Priest, the only One Who can save, the only One Who is always living to make intercession for us before His Father (Hebrews 7:25).
There is one King, and He is reigning and must reign until all His enemies are put down; the last of these is death (1 Corinthians 15:25,26).
There is one King, and to wait in His presence is not to be still but to fly and run with strength no youth has on this earth (Isaiah 40:28-31).
There is one King, and to love Him is to obey Him (John 14:15,21,23) and to teach others to obey Him, as well (Matthew 28:20).
There is one King, and He is both the Father’s complete expression of infinite and eternal love (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Titus 3:4; 1 John 4:10) and the complete expression of infinite and eternal judgment (John 5:19-30; Acts 10:42,43; 17:30,31; Hebrews 1:8,9; Revelation 19:11-21).
There is one King, and He loves His Father (John 14:31) and those who are His own (John 13:1; Galatians 2:20), but hates lawlessness (Hebrews 1:8,9).
There is one King, and He is full of joy (Hebrews 1:9).

Cry to Him, pray to Him, direct yourself to Him, and wait on Him. He is King and God.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Morning Meditation on Psalm 4

“Tremble and sin not: examine your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4, Geneva Bible).

Why tremble at all? Why examine your own heart? Serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice in trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way, when His wrath shall suddenly burn. Blessed are all that trust in Him” (Psalm 2:11,12).

How does this affect how we live together as the Church? “If so be ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus, that is, that ye cast off, concerning the conversation in time past, that old man, which is corrupt through the deceivable lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which after God is created unto righteousness, and true holiness. Wherefore cast off lying, and speak every man truth unto his neighbor: for we are members one of another. Be angry, but sin not [quoting Psalm 4:4]: let not the sun go down upon your wrath, neither give place to the devil...let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouths: but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God [quoting Isaiah 63:10], by Whom ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and anger, and wrath, crying, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all maliciousness. Be ye courteous one to another, and tender hearted, freely forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake, freely forgave you” (Ephesians 4:21-27,30-32).

Thank You, Father, for fulfilling Your promise to the Son in forgiving us in Him, and for predestining us to be conformed to the image of the Son (Romans 8:29). Thank You, Son of God, for being a great God and King above all, alone worthy of our fear, love, and faith. Thank You, Holy Spirit of God, for sealing us for the day of redemption and for being grieved when we resist each other – and in so doing resist Your building of Your Church (Ephesians 2:18-22). Blessed and holy Trinity, help us to tremble before You, realizing that we ourselves as individuals are usually the problem in Your Church. Holy Spirit, remind us always to exalt the Father’s forgiveness through the Son in our membership together in Your Church.

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By the way, I'm not angry at anyone in the Church this groggy Monday morning. This is where the Psalm reading had me as I huddled over a cup of coffee, though, and we come to the Word to be taught...often before we even need the lesson, if we're willing to hear. Coming to the Bible with our "felt needs" and not to be taught sometimes means we walk a lot of spiritual miles on the Way a few steps behind! Learn from the Holy Spirit today as He speaks through His Word to teach us about conformity to the Son. Learn the lesson before the lesson becomes the crisis with your brother or sister!

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Alright: the original title for this post was "Shaking (Not the Harlem Variety)." I've changed it so no one thinks I'm being critical of the "Harlem Shake" fun that's currently going on. I sincerely was not criticizing or making fun of the fun or anyone having the fun...was just participating in it in my own silly way with the pun in the title (Psalm 4:4 on trembling and "Harlem Shake"...get it?!?!?! Can I get a "LOL"?!?!?!). No "Harlem Shaking" was harmed in the making of this post! I have, for the sake of not offending or get labeled a "Harlem Shake hater," given this post the current innocuous and boring re-name. Happy Monday to you!

But you have to admit it: "Shaking (Not the Harlem Variety)" is a much better post-title for a Monday morning meditation on Psalm 4!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gather at the Holy Mountain

“I did call unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy mountain...salvation belongeth unto the Lord, and Thy blessing is upon Thy people” (Psalm 3:4,8, Geneva Bible).

This is the morning of the gathering of the Church; meditate on the picture of God’s gathering His people to Himself: His holy mountain.”

As He gathers us to Himself as His people in Christ, we see His King, the only Lord Jesus. “I have set My King upon Zion Mine holy mountain (2:6).

As He gathers us to Himself as His people in Christ, it is conformity to His perfect reflection of the Father’s glory to which we are predestined. “Lord, who shall dwell in Thy Tabernacle? Who shall rest in Thine holy Mountain? He that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that slandereth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor receiveth a false report against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned, but he honoreth them that fear the Lord: he that sweareth to his own hindrance and changeth not. He that giveth not his money unto usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent: he that doeth these things, shall never be moved” (15:1-5). “Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? Even he that hath innocent hands, and a pure heart; which hath not lifted up his mind unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them that seek Him, of them that seek Thy face, this is Jacob” (24:3-6).

As He gathers us to Himself as His people in Christ, it is by “light” and “truth,” found only in the God the Son, unto the fruit of God the Holy Spirit, joy and thankfulness: “Send Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me: let them bring me unto Thine holy Mountain, and to Thy Tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, even unto the God of my joy and gladness: and upon the harp will I give thanks unto Thee, O God my God” (43:3,4).

As He gathers us to Himself as His people in Christ, we find by faith joy and refuge not to be found anywhere else in the world: “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the City of our God, even upon His holy Mountain. Mount Zion, lying Northward, is fair in situation: it is the joy of the whole earth, and the City of the great king. In the palaces thereof God is known for a refuge” (48:1-3).

As He gathers us to Himself as His people in Christ, we are reminded of His love for us and how glorious that makes the gathering: “God laid His foundations among the holy mountains. The Lord loveth the gates of Zion above all the habitations of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God(87:1-3).

As He gathers us to Himself as His people in Christ, we are humbled, repentant, and more aware of our need for grace before His holiness: “Exalt the Lord our God and fall down before His holy Mountain: for the Lord our God is holy” (99:1).

“I did call unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy mountain...salvation belongeth unto the Lord, and Thy blessing is upon Thy people” (3:4,8). Calling upon Him as His people and seeing His holiness in Christ (which is His decree for us, Ephesians 1:4) is to realize only He can save, and He has chosen His people in Christ to receive the fullness of His blessings forever (Ephesians 1:3; 2:4-10). May the gathering of His people in Christ reflect above all on His holiness, out of the light of which we see His love, justice, righteousness, wrath, mercy, and grace in the Son. May we be brought to His knees at the revealing of His holiness in the gathering through the Word and the Table today to His eternal glory and our saving confession.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Prayer for Dissatisfaction in Half a Son

“Even I have set My King upon Zion Mine holy mountain. I will declare the decree: that is, the Lord hath said unto Me, ‘Thou art My son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt crush them with a scepter of iron, and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ Be wise now therefore, ye kings: be learned ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice in trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way, when His wrath shall suddenly burn. Blessed are all that trust in Him” (Psalm 2:6-12, Geneva Bible).

The Son is the sole expression of the Father’s love (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Titus 3:4; 1 John 4:10) and yet the Judge/Warrior-King expressing the Father’s wrath at the same time (John 5:19-30; Acts 10:42,43; 17:30,31; Hebrews 1:8,9; Revelation 19:11-21), without contradiction, tension, or confusion.

Holy Spirit, teach us from Your Word to worship the Father through the Son in the perfect fullness of Your revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Make us wholly dissatisfied with anything less!