Thursday, April 9, 2015

Joy Comes in the Morning...

"For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning"

Psalm 30:5 | NKJV

Our perspective and perceptions shapes our emotions and actions.  Our perspective is our mental view of life or situations, it is our seeing the facts, the data, and making sense of them in relation to one another.  Perception is to recognize, discern, envision, or understand what we see.  We use both simultaneously as we look at life.  We see, we observe, we discern what it is, and as we gather these facts, we decide what they mean and how they are related and this is how our mind makes sense of everything.  In this sin cursed world we often have a skewed perspective and our perceptions of reality can often be misleading.  That is why we need a daily renewal of the proper perspective.  And this verse renewed me this morning.  

Joy comes in the morning.  Its fresh, it's new, its a beginning, it can only come after night has been.  Morning is a time of renewing, you wake up, it's a new day, there are new tasks to be done, you are refreshed from sleep and ready to accomplish the day's tasks.  But there was a night, a time when you were tired, worn out, perhaps downcast, discouraged, even tearful.  But joy comes in the morning.  God promises that joy will come, that as sure as the morning comes after night, joy will come after sorrow, after tears and weeping.  

In the beginning of this verse the brevity of the Lord's anger is compared to the enduring of His favor.  I often forget this.  I see my sin and am discouraged and disheartened and unable to move past it at times, I am unable to accept the forgiveness that I have in Christ, and I focus only on the anger of the Lord against my sin.  But this verse reminds me that His anger is brief, unlike us He does not hold onto it, He does not allow it to kindle against His children, He does not dwell on it forever.  In contrast His favor is for a lifetime.  His grace, His mercy, His lovingkindness, His Fatherly love is for a lifetime.  Does He get angry over the sin of His children?  Yes, and it grieves Him, and He will indeed discipline it.  

"For whom the Lord loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights." 
Proverbs 3:12 | NASB

"Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent." 
Revelation 3:19 | NASB

Yet even in His discipline we are told of His love.  He would not discipline those whom He did not love.  He calls His children to repentance, to renewal of peace, to fruitful living.  Sometimes we get hung up on His anger, hung up on the grief, hung up on the sorrow, hung up on the sadness over our sin.  These have their proper place, and they are necessary and good if and when that grief and sorrow lead to repentance, restoration, and peace.  Mourning and weeping should only last for the night, Joy must come in the morning.  

If you are sorrowful over your sin then repent.  Joy will come in the morning.  God does not stay angry forever, His anger is but for a moment.  And we are reminded that there is something that does last forever.  That is His favor.  His favor is for a lifetime, it will not dry up or become cold.  When we anger God with our sin, His anger is brief, our weeping for it is only for the night, and promised joy will come in the morning.  

I needed that today.  I needed to be reminded that sorrow and weeping have their place, but so does joy.  I needed to be reminded that God does not stay angry at me for my short-comings, for my failures, for my sin against Him, but as a faithful Father He restores me in His favor when I repent.  

Remember that we all need to have our perspective and perceptions renewed day by day.  We must daily die to the old self and its false perspectives and skewed perceptions and renew our minds and hearts with the heavenly perspective and His divine perceptions.  I love the reminder here to not lose heart, don't we find it so easy to lose heart?  I know I do, but though the outer man decays, our inner man can be renewed, and we are reminded to renew our perspective of all that we see and experience from an earthly  and temporal perspective to a heavenly and eternal one!

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal"

II Corinthians 4: 16-18 | NASB

Monday, April 6, 2015

"According to the word of the Lord"

"According to the word of the Lord which He spoke to Elijah."
2 Kings 10:17c | NASB
Throughout this chapter as the prophecy of Elijah against Ahab the king of Israel is fulfilled, this is proclaimed, such and such happened according to the word of the Lord. The Lord told Elijah of the judgment that would come to Ahab's house and years after Elijah was taken up in the chariot of fire, the events that Elijah prophesied, the word of the Lord that was spoken to him took place. Everything occurred just as the Lord had spoken, everything occurred according to His word. When the Lord speaks you can be sure that everything He speaks has and will indeed come to pass.  Job knew this.  Job knew that whatever happened only came about because the Lord had declared it to be so.  He performs what He decrees for us, there are no doubts here.

Job 23:13-14 | NASB
“But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does. “For He performs what is appointed for me, And many such decrees are with Him."

In the Old Testament, God spoke to His people through His prophets.  He gave them His words and declared them to speak it to whomever He wanted it spoken to.  From the very beginning He declared that this is how He would speak to His people especially.  He was, and is, very particular about those who claim to speak His word and knowing that many would make this claim He made sure that His people would always know if the prophet speaking was truly from the Lord.  In Deuteronomy 18:19-22 God declares to us that when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord it will come true.  Any man who says they speak the words of the Lord and it does not come true, is false, presumptuous, and was to be put to death.   

"I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.  But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."

The words of the Lord that Elijah spoke came to pass, and when they did they proved to be the word of the Lord.  And proved Elijah to be a true prophet.  By these criteria and through these means, God spoke to man.  But then something changed.

Hebrews 1:1-2a | NASB
"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son"
God spoke a final word to us through His Son, who is Prophet, Priest, Savior and King.  In these last days It is His Son who has spoken the word of the Lord to us.  We know that He is a true prophet for His own prophecies have come to pass (i.e. the destruction of the temple).  And because He is the True Prophet, and speaks the True Word, we can know that God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, will ensure that everything spoken by Him, through His Son will come to pass.  Jesus Christ is even given the title in John "the WORD."  Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, the final word spoken to men.  

John 1:14 | NASB
"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

And as He is the Word of God made flesh all that He spoke will be accomplished. Everything will still occur according to the WORD of the Lord!  
And what then should our response be.  We know that by God's own criteria that Jesus is the authentic and last Word of God to man.  We also know that according to our passage in Deuteronomy that God will require it of every man who does not listen to the Word of the Lord.  We must listen to the Word.  We must know the Word.  We must obey the Word.  All the time being fully confident that the Word of the Lord will indeed come to pass.  That everything in this world will transpire according to every word o the Lord!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What the Lord says I shall speak...

I Kings 22: 13-14 | NASB

“Then the messenger who went to summon Micaiah spoke to him saying, “Behold now, the words of the prophets are uniformly favorable to the king. Please let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.” But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I shall speak.”

After Ahab, the king of Israel, had gathered and consulted with about four hundred prophets that were found in Israel and was given an answer that was favorable by all of them Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah asks “Is there not yet a prophet of the LORD here that we may inquire of him?”  Four hundred men and not one of them was a prophet of the LORD.  Micaiah is spoken of as the “yet one man by whom the LORD may be inquired of.”  Just one.  Why wasn’t he called to begin with?  Because he speaks what the Lord says to him.  Ahab did not like hearing what the Lord had to say.  In the previous chapter we read:

 “Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him. He acted very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the sons of Israel.”

This is why Ahab did not call this one man left, this only prophet of the Lord.  He already knew that the Lord had nothing good to say to him.  He already knew that the Lord had cast judgment on him for his evil ways. 

But to appease Jehoshaphat he calls Micaiah.  Can you image coming before the kings of Israel and Judah to speak what they do not want to hear after four hundred men have already prophesied favorably to them?  How alone he must feel?  Micaiah must have known not only that his answer would be unfavorably met, but also that king Ahab already hated him.  Yet, even when the messengers ask him to speak favorably, he makes this oath that as the Lord lives, what He says is what he will speak.  In spite of the position that he found himself in, the possible fear that he may have felt, the pressure to give a favorable word, this last prophet of the Lord spoke the word of the Lord.  Micaiah swore to do the one thing he had been called to do.  As a prophet of the Lord he was called to speak the words of the Lord and this he would do.  It did not matter to whom he was speaking; he must speak the word of the Lord.

I am reminded of a story I have heard several times.  A man was preaching the gospel in England contrary to the edict of the king and he was called before the king to give an account.  As he walked into the throne room he said to himself “be careful what you say the king is here!”  He thought not even a moment more and said to himself “be careful what you do not say the KING OF KINGS is here!” 

Far too often we forget that we are in the presence of the KING OF KINGS and that we need to echo the words of Micaiah “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I shall speak!” 

God has said much to us; He has spoken to us through His word and in these last days through His Son.

Hebrews 1:1-2a | NASB
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son”

Let us speak all that the Lord has said to us boldly before all men.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

There is No Other

Isaiah 46:5-11 | NASB

“To whom would you liken Me
 And make Me equal and compare Me, 
That we would be alike?  Those who lavish gold from the purse
 And weigh silver on the scale
 Hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; 
They bow down, indeed they worship it.  They lift it upon the shoulder and carry it; 
 They set it in its place and it stands there. 
It does not move from its place. 
Though one may cry to it, it cannot answer; 
It cannot deliver him from his distress. Remember this, and be assured;
 Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past,
 For I am God, and there is no other;
 I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning,
 And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
 And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; Calling a bird of prey from the east, 
The man of My purpose from a far country. 
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. 
 I have planned it, surely I will do it.”

“For I am God, and there is no other;” indeed there is no other.  This and similar phrases are found frequently in this and the surrounding chapters.  The nation of Israel was divided and both Israel (the northern ten tribes) and Judah (the southern two tribes) had forsaken the Lord for idols, for the gods of the nations whom they had disinherited, for the gods of the nations that surrounded them.  These idols were carved images, made by men.   I’m reminded of what David says of them in Psalms. 

Psalm 135:15-18 | NASB

“The idols of the nations are but silver and gold, 
The work of man’s hands.  They have mouths, but they do not speak; 
They have eyes, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear, 
Nor is there any breath at all in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, 
Yes, everyone who trusts in them.”

God reminds Judah of Who it is they serve.  REMEMBER!  Remember Who I am, what I have done, how I have delivered you, how all that my prophets have declared has come to pass, how I have been faithful!  Remember the impotence of the idols you served, their inability to do anything for themselves let alone save you from your distress, remember and be assured! 

We, like Judah, need to remind ourselves Who it is that we serve.  What has our God done, how He has declared what the end will be from before the beginning, how He establishes His purposes, accomplishes His good pleasure, how He will always do exactly as He has planned.  There is no one like our God, there is no other beside Him, He swears by Himself, for there is no other greater by which He can swear.

Isaiah 45:23 | NASB

“I have sworn by Myself, 
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
 And will not turn back, 
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.”

Hebrews 6:13 | NASB

“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,”

How can we, when we know our God, when we remember Who He is ever have any cause to fear or doubt?  Our God, Who fashioned us in the womb, Who channels kings hearts wherever He wishes, Who does whatever His soul desires, Who appoints each circumstance of our life and performs it accordingly.   Does this not put you in utter awe of the God you serve?  Does this not fill you with all confidence that He is sovereignly orchestrating our lives, and not just the courses of nations and kings, but our personal lives?  This magnificent and awesome God has His hand in our individual lives.  Does this not fill you with wonder and awe, with grateful and worshipping hearts?  

Proverbs 21:1 |NASB

“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; 
He turns it wherever He wishes.”

Job 23:13-14 | NASB

“But He is unique and who can turn Him? 
And what His soul desires, that He does.”
“For He performs what is appointed for me,
 And many such decrees are with Him.”

Indeed to whom shall we liken our God, He is God, and there is no other, He is God, and there is no one like Him!

Isaiah 44:6-8 | NASB

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the first and I am the last, 
And there is no God besides Me.

‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; 
Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, 
From the time that I established the ancient nation. 
And let them declare to them the things that are coming 
And the events that are going to take place.

‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid; 
Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? 
And you are My witnesses. 
Is there any God besides Me, 
Or is there any other Rock? 
I know of none.’”

Monday, March 2, 2015

two men...

Jeremiah 17:5-8 | NKJV
Thus says the Lord:  “Cursed is the man who trusts in man
 And makes flesh his strength, 
 Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, 
And shall not see when good comes, 
 But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, 
 In a salt land which is not inhabited.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, 
 And whose hope is the Lord.

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, 
 Which spreads out its roots by the river, 
 And will not fear when heat comes; 
 But its leaf will be green, 
And will not be anxious in the year of drought, 
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

I came to this passage today roundaboutly; I was reviewing the passage in I Samuel 16, where the Lord reminds Samuel that He does not look at outward appearances, that He “beholdeth the heart (GNV)” The word translated beholdeth means to not only see, but to also perceive, to understand.  And as I was pondering what it meant for the Lord to behold our hearts, to see and understand them, I went looking for the verse that said, “who can know it?” referring to our hearts.   And as I found the verse I was looking for, I was drawn into the passage just above it and so here I am.

I was drawn to the contrasts that God makes here; God often delights in painting contrasting pictures for us.  I find that the contrast can be helpful in our understanding. 

The first man that we look at here is the one who trusts in the power of man, who does not trust in the Lord, but whose heart departs, not departed, past tense, as if it happened at one time in the past, but it is in a simple present tense which is used in English grammar to represent a habitual action.  This man’s heart habitually departs from the Lord.  And it is this continuous action of departure and continuous act of trust in his own strength that is his downfall.  The picture painted by God through the weeping prophet is that of a shrub, in a dessert, a man who lives in parched places, and in an uninhabitable salt land.   High salinity in soil has detrimental effects on plant life, when there is too much salt nothing can grow or live, there is no life, not even the possibility of life.  This is indeed a sad state.

But God is a God who loves to magnify and accentuate through contrast.  The second man that we look at is the man who trusts in the Lord (again the present tense, showing a habitual trust).  His hope is in the Lord!  This man is depicted as a tree, planted by waters, a continual source of life for the tree, its roots are by the river and because of this there is no fear for whatever comes its way.  It is not only able to live, but it thrives, its leaves are green and it does not cease to yield fruit!   

What a contrast there is between the man who trusts in himself and the man who trusts in the Lord!!  On one hand you have a shriveled shrub in the dessert, who is parched for water, does not see when good will come, and lives in a dead land without hope for life or growth.  Then you have the man whose habitual trust is in the Lord, who places his hope in Him, this man is sturdy, solid, continually being fed, without fear in times of drought and danger, he thrives, he is fruitful. 

Take hold of the promises of God, the man who trusts in the Lord is indeed blessed, has no reason for fear or anxiety, despite trials and persecution that will no doubt come.   God promises to be a continual source of life so that when trials come there is never danger for harm to this man.  And not only this, but he will not cease from yielding fruit even during heat and drought.  The man who trusts in the Lord will always yield fruit.  Does this not give you confidence?  The God who does not change, the God who keeps His promises and covenants to all generations says this of the man who places his hope and trust in Him!  There is truly no safer place to be.