Saturday, August 26, 2017

Quiet Us with Your Love

 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for [it is] nigh at hand... Joel 2:1

Do you feel worrisome about the latest news reports? The headlines grow harder and harder to bear.

Just less than a week ago was the eclipse and now a storm bears down in the sourthwest that may end up being worse than Katrina. Every day it seems our country implodes just a little bit more.

I am confused by what's all around me, yet the answer I need to these very problems were written thousands of years ago. 
 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6

Somehow God knew all of this craziness was going to happen, in this generation since the re-establishment of the nation of Israel. It seems the key to really get the end times ball rolling was May, 14, 1948.  Suddenly we are almost 70 years from that day. And everything is flying out of control.

 I flounder in a confusing sea of information when listening to the news updates. Everyone has their opinion, experts abound. But stability does not come from the plethora of advice I  find from the world.

Only one thing is sure: God's Word and His promises to all of us, His undeserving children. I may understand just a tiny bit, but one day it all will be made clear. So each day I try to read and record verses impressed on me.

Today, one of the verses I read and recorded was Zephaniah chapter 3:1-2.  I thought about my own reaction to the times we live in:
 Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled, the oppressing city!  She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the LORD; she does not draw near to her God. Zeph. 3: 1-2

 Am I listening and attentive to the warning knocks the Lord is sending to this country? I've lived in a time of unbroken prosperity, but that could all change in a moment.

Yesterday I was deprived of my morning coffee so that I could undergo a small procedure at the hospital early in the afternoon. The world could have ended that I didn't get my morning cup of joe. I felt awful without it. Then, I thought what if the electricity went out permanently? No more dark roast for me! This verse from Jeremiah came to mind:

 "If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?  Jeremiah 12: 5
 Here I am again, Lord. Please keep me and my loved ones safe through spiritual and physical storms. One of my children and his precious family live in the path of Harvey, so this storm weighs heavy on my mind and heart. Still, God speaks words of reassurance:

 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zeph. 3: 17
 Dear God quiet this storm by Your love, exult over Your people that lie in its path with Your singing. And may we, the sheep of Your pasture, remember that if You, Lord, did the most in saving us through means of the cross, than You, God, also will meet every other need until You bring us safely home.

  He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Song of Solomon 2:4

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

To God Alone be Glory

I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images. Isaiah 42:8

God alone deserves all the glory.  In that wonderful devotional by Charles Spurgeon called Morning and Evening  I read these words for August 16:

God's glory is the result of His nature and acts. He is glorious in His character, for there is such a store of everything that is holy, and good, and lovely in God, that He must be glorious. The actions which flow from His character are also glorious; but while He intends that they should manifest to His creatures His goodness, and mercy, and justice, He is equally concerned that the glory associated with them should be given only to Himself. Nor is there aught in ourselves in which we may glory; for who maketh us to differ from another? And what have we that we did not receive from the God of all grace? Then how careful ought we to be to walk humbly before the Lord! The moment we glorify ourselves, since there is room for one glory only in the universe, we set ourselves up as rivals to the Most High. 
The last statement really hit me. "The moment we glorify ourselves, since there is room for one glory only in the universe, we set ourselves up as rivals to the Most High."

Something clicked inside me. The basis for all the chaos, the fighting, the murders and in general all the misery of this world comes from the fact that one day in eternity past, God's most highly created being in a moment wanted glory for himself instead of giving it to the Most High.

In that minute, angelic rebellion started and it carries on to this very day. But lucifer wasn't the only rebel. One third of the angels joined him, and every day, we either join lucifer in his lie that God doesn't deserve all praise, or  we stand with God and rightly praise Him as the only One deserving glory in this entire universe.

The Lord revealed something ugly  lurking inside of me. Oh, how I hate to even admit it, but if it helps someone else who is struggling, it'll be worth it. That little ugly sin called envy was festering inside my heart of hearts.

On Monday, I realized this fact when I wrote this Proverb in my journal:

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but ENVY* makes the bones rot. Prov. 14:30 (my emphasis)

Suddenly, it hit me... Envy was causing me to spiritually languish, rotting inside. Ouch. Should I agree with that one who cannot even speak the truth by being envious of some other person's blessings?

When I read Spurgeon's words about there only being room for one glory in the universe, it connected in my soul. If I am envious of someone, I am telling God that what He gave me was not enough, that somehow He passed me by, made a mistake, call it what you will. Somehow I think that I deserve better than what He gave me, and the old bones start to rot. I am looking to glorify myself, and acting like the archenemy of God.

For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?             I Cor. 4:7
Reading and believing that verse quiets my soulish longing for recognition by people in this world. Any talent I have is solely His gift to me, and there is no room for boasting in my flesh. Did I do one thing to earn or deserve it? No way.

 In the past, I didn't understand why God demands all the glory. Dare I say I thought it was selfish of Him?  That only proved my ignorance of knowing Him at all.

God alone deserves the glory because He humbled Himself more than any creature in this universe, to the point of being born in a dirty cattle trough, being misunderstood and abused when He went about doing only good, and as a thanks for all His gifts and healings was hung naked on the cross and suffered the punishment we all deserved, as us, instead of us. (See Phillipians 2.)
"In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people's trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation.
Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ's behalf, "Be reconciled to God!"
God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God."    II Corinthians 5: 19-21 NET
If we look at a flower, or a bird, or behold the blue sky or the stars in the heavens, they in their beauty, even in this fallen world, will attest:

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.    Revelation 4: 11

Even as we sing this beautiful chorus in the local assembly, one day soon all of God's children will be falling on our faces and singing it to the Lamb of God, the One who deserves the glory because He alone took away the sins of the world. Amen.