Thursday, April 30, 2015
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalms 43:5)
A thermometer shows the temperature, but a thermostat sets the temperature. As a child of God I can reflect the climate of the circumstances I am in, or I can choose to see the situation from God's perspective and set my heart accordingly. In Psalms 42-43 we find a man in great difficulty and tempted to be a thermometer reacting to his environment with despair. Instead, he decides to be a thermostat by rejoicing in the hope he has in God. Here is how it is done.
Let sorrow give way to song (Ps.42:1-5). You can be DEDICATED THOUGH DISTRESSED IN TEARFUL TIMES. Imagine a deer relentlessly pursued by hunters--the hounds hot on its trail--panting for water and strength to escape. That describes the writer of this psalm. Maybe it's how you feel today. Trouble is chasing you and you need help. One of the dangers at this point is to try to find wisdom by drinking from the world's polluted streams. The Psalmist chooses to seek God--who alone can satisfy the thirst of our soul. There is where hope is found. Each stanza ends with that affirmation (42:5,11; 43:5).
See storms give way to sunshine (Ps.42:6-11). You can be DETERMINED THOUGH DEPRESSED IN TROUBLED TIMES. The psalmist is sinking fast. Troubled times have come--like waves relentlessly breaking over him, threatening to drown him in despair. Yet, he speaks of "Your waterfalls" and "Your waves," recognizing the sovereignty of God in the storms. God has a purpose (see Rom.8:28). If the problems are permitted then we know He has a higher good in mind. The same sovereign God commands His lovingkindness to come, as the writer cries out for help. God is the Rock he can stand on. A shaft of sunshine--radiant hope--breaks through the clouds. Despite how he feels, he makes a choice, "I will remember" (42:6); "I will say" (42:9); "I will go to the altar...I will praise" (43:4). Where there is a will there is a way.
See strife give way to serenity (43:1-5). You can be DELIVERED THOUGH DISTURBED IN TOUGH TIMES. The sacred writer uses the language of the courtroom to plead his case (v.1). Still, it seemed God was oblivious to his plight (v.2). He knew that only the light of truth could be a beacon to bring him out of the darkness of despair (v.3). In John Bunyan's, "Pilgrim's Progress," Christian is imprisoned in Doubting Castle, held by a giant named Despair, when he escapes by using the key of promise. Such is the power of the Word to free us! The light on his path would lead the way to the house of God, where he would offer sacrifices of delight and songs of deliverance (v.4). There hope is found despite the situation (v.5). The house of God is the place to calibrate your thermostat (read Heb.10:24-25). If you stay away, you may be sure the world will set your temperature, and you will cool off spiritually.
Will you be a thermometer or a thermostat?
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
All the days of his separation he shall be holy to the LORD. (Numbers 6:8)
God takes delight in those devoted to Him. As a human father finds joy when someone says, "He looks just like you!" or "She acts like her Daddy!" thus the Heavenly Father rejoices when His children favor Him. He is holy and calls us to be holy.
In the passage before us--Numbers 6--we see those who passionately pursued holiness. They were called Nazirites. This vow was voluntary. It was not from any outward compulsion, but an inward conviction that the man or woman choose this special consecration to God. The word, "Nazirite," means "separation," and speaks of those who have separated themselves to God to a special degree.
God delights in those who serve Him--not from grudging obligation, but in glad devotion. There is a vast difference between my saying, "I've got to go to worship today," and "I get to go to worship today!" The former is like the husband who brings his wife a hamburger, tosses it on the table, while he retreats to the recliner and immerses himself in TV, contrasted with the husband who takes his wife out to a nice dinner and is engrossed in conversation with her. It is not the giver who feels compelled to give--paying his debt to God as he or she pays the government taxes--but, the giver who fervently celebrates to give--expressing love for the Lord in response to His generosity to him or her--that God loves.
Sounds extreme, doesn't it? How excessive is God's love for us? Higher than the heavens, deeper than the oceans, wider than the universe, and longer than time--from eternity to eternity--most graphically expressed in the indescribable suffering of Christ for sinners like we are! No wonder after Paul spent eleven chapters in Romans developing the doctrine of justification by faith, that he would give the call to complete sanctification in the remaining chapters as our proper response--the pivotal verses being 12:1-2:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
The Nazirite's joy was not to be found in the world, but in the Lord. He or she must be willing to bear the reproach of being, "different," because of devotion. Anything defiling was to be scrupulously avoided. This is to be our response to God's amazing grace!
Is it surprising that after the dedication expressed by the Nazirites, that we have the benediction exclaimed by the Lord? This is the devotion that brings God delight! Nothing brings God pleasure more than when we exhibit such pleasure in Him. Aaron would call upon God for provision, protection, and peace for God's people--and how we need that today! Our devotion is the unobstructed channel through which those blessings flow.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Go forth, O daughters of Zion, And see King Solomon with the crown With which his mother crowned him On the day of his wedding, The day of the gladness of his heart. (Song of Solomon 3:11)
Our weddings seem to make the groom a supporting character, with the bride being the star of the show. Have you ever read the write up in the newspaper? It tells about the beauty of her dress--the length and design of it--and descriptions are glowingly given of her veil, bouquet, and the number and dress of her attendants. You know how the wedding begins--the mothers are seated, and the pastor leads the groom and best man out a side door. They wait and watch as the wedding march begins--then everyone stands as they play, "Here comes the bride!" Down the center aisle she comes, escorted by her father--all eyes are on her. Having officiated at a host of weddings, I can attest that I have never seen anything except a beautiful bride--though there have been a few close calls!
Weddings in Bible times were very different. The groom got his due! He wasn't an afterthought and accessory--he was the main attraction! This is especially true when it was a royal wedding. Here we see King Solomon coming to his wedding day.
The Song of Solomon expresses the lyrics of love. It is the glorious gift of intimacy the Lord intends for a husband and wife to enjoy. The poetic images are sensual, but not smutty. They speak of pleasure without being pornographic.
Having said that, it is also appropriate to find in this an illustration of God's love for Israel, and Christ's love for the church. We can see that Paul had no difficulty seamlessly weaving practical implication in the family with theological application in the church concerning marriage in Ephesians 5:22-32.
The first five verses of Song of Solomon, chapter three, show the passion that has been building during their courtship. She desires him so, that she dreams of him--and in her mind seeks him that she might embrace him. She longs for the consummation of their love--although she asks her friends to hold her accountable for maintaining her virginity until the wedding night (v.5). The child of God understands that restless longing to be with Jesus--that nothing can compare with the joy of seeing Him face to face.
When the night is past, some golden daybreak Jesus will come. King Solomon is seen coming in regal splendor to claim his bride in v.6-11. It is the day of his wedding and he is glad! Do we desire to see Christ? He will delight to be with us! That day will surely arrive. I sense it is near!
Perhaps the angels will strum their harps and the hosts of heaven will sing, "Here comes the Bridegroom!" What if it were today?
Monday, April 27, 2015
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. (Hebrews 2:1)
Imagine floating in an inner tube down a lazy river. The sun is beaming down on you, while the cool water swirls beneath you. It is the perfect environment for nodding off to sleep. But, the river becomes swifter and you go farther, much farther than you intended. What’s that roaring sound? You snap wide awake—just ahead is the mist and thunder of a waterfall. It’s too late to escape the current—the pull is too strong—now you are plunging down, down to the jagged rocks and deep pool below. That is the danger of drifting--and spiritually it can be just as deadly.
There is THE RISK (v.1b). When this discussion begins, it starts with the word, “Therefore.” This word connects what will be said about the danger of Christians drifting with the doctrine of Christ’s deity presented in chapter one. He is supreme in revelation—the last word from God which was greater than the words of the Old Testament prophets (1:1-2a). He is supreme in creation—Christ made and sustains all things by the sheer power of His word (1:2b-3a). He is supreme in mediation—having secured salvation for us as both the priest and the sacrifice (1:3b). He is supreme in exaltation—so much so that even angels are His servants (1:4ff). This will be the anchor that can hold them and prevent them from drifting away. These Jews who had professed faith in Christ now found themselves facing intensifying hostility from the world. They were in danger of drifting—slowly slipping away in the current of peer pressure—the downward flow away from Christ. You feel that don't you? The danger is that drifting is so gradual, so easy that one may not even notice. In fact, you don’t have to do anything to drift—just stop resisting and away you go.
To resist this demands THE REQUIREMENT (v.1a). This is an imperative: “we must....” You have to make a conscious effort—it is swimming upstream, and that isn’t easy. You never drift toward Christ, but always away. So, “give the more earnest heed” The current is very strong and at the end one will be swept over the falls and dash on the rocks! This is how many make “shipwreck of their faith” (see 1 Tim. 1:18-20). The tragedy of the Titanic could have been avoided had the ship's captain heeded the warnings. Are you listening?
Drift and keep drifting and there comes THE RUIN (v.2-4). The Old Testament law had specific and sometimes very severe penalties for disobedience. The writer talks about how the law was delivered from God to Moses through the medium of angels. We have already seen that Christ is far superior to angels. One may be forgiven for transgressing God's laws, but to forsake Christ is to abandon hope. A true believer may drift, may struggle, but will heed the warning and return, but those who finally, fully walk away are lost forever. It is the difference between Peter who denied Jesus and Judas who betrayed Him. Notice that this is “neglect” of salvation. Hell will be filled with people who intended to get right with God, but just procrastinated, and neglected their soul while pursuing the things of the world—until too late! Resist the drift! It never ends well.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Monday, April 20, 2015
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Friday, April 17, 2015
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
This past Sunday morning, we had a tremendous outpouring of people sharing what they were asking God to do in their hearts and in our church in seeking revival. The following are a list of some of those concerns. There were many more--this is just what we have been able to process, but we have been praying for them all. We wanted to share these so you could join us in prayer.