Monday, April 29, 2013

Problems with "the Preacher"...Now Resolved

"So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin: and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." Matthew 6: 28-29

When I was a young believer, immature and questioning many things, I came across a huge stumbling block when I read the book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon. He was the successor of King David, his only son to do so, though several others tried and failed.

God gave Solomon more wisdom than any man on this earth, because that was Solomon's wish when God asked him what he wanted above all things.(I Kings 3: 5-10) God was highly pleased with this request. Solomon started his reign so well, but it ended in disgrace, with the nation divided and going into captivity. Solomon became ensnared and found one thing that he ended up desiring more than God's wisdom: beautiful women.

The hundreds of wives and concubines of Solomon stole his first love away. The Scripture says:

1Kings 11:4 "For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as [was] the heart of his father David."

Solomon had it all. He had the legacy of his father, he had all that wisdom God had bestowed,and he had been the one privileged to build God's temple in Jerusalem. Solomon also was indescribably wealthy, and yet all the lovely ladies lured him away from all of these blessings and from the Holy God of Israel.

Indeed God had warned anyone who would be King in Israel in the book of Deuteronomy beforehand, this was nothing new. The monarch of the Jewish people must not complicate his life with many wives.

Deuteronomy 17:17 "Neither shall he {the King} multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

Solomon tried everything he could to reach his "pleasure principle." But after a while, he realized you could not find it with multiple partners. Was that the reason God had ordained one man and one woman brought together for life in the first marriage ceremony in the Garden of Eden so many years before?

Solomon finally reached his old age and realized he had been duped by his own lust and carnal pleasures. He realized that he'd been a fool. The man with the most had given away his inheritance and was a loser by his own choice. He was the opposite of his father, David. He'd heralded the nation's division and being carried off captive to Babylon.

Well, I read the book of Ecclesiastes for the first time back in my early twenties and became utterly depressed. Especially when Solomon (ie, the Preacher) kept saying all was vanity. Here I was, a new wife and mother, wife "my whole life ahead of me."

"Why, oh Preacher, are you telling me everything is vanity? Guess I should just quit now before I try to "get ahead!"

At that time, we attended a small group at our church. Another young couple came who also had a young baby. The husband's name was Scott, and he was a young theologian, looking at the time for where to go next to minister. In our fellowship time, I confessed to him:

"I just read Ecclesiastes. That book depressed me so much."

"Really," he said. "That is my favorite book in the Bible."

He went on to explain to me how Solomon had reached the end of himself, and it was outlined in that book.

Eccles. 1: 2 "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher: Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.
4 One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever.
14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Grasping for the wind? Now that is depressing, Preacher!

The book is bad news if you think you are someone, if you think you have something to offer God in and of yourself.

But to those who are nothing and know that God is everything, that book and the message it preaches is welcome news. It shows that man and all his plans, his contriving, his thoughts, and plans for this world are nothing to the Lord. His five year goals, ten year goals, his retirement plan, according to the Word, according to the Preacher, who is speaking after wasting his life, in one word, is: "vanity."

The whole world,then, really is in His Hands, not in our own little grubby ones.
Everthing can change in just one moment.

I like this line from an old Rich Mullins song:
"We must be awfully small and not as strong as we think we are"

(from the song: "We are Not as Strong as We Think We Are")

So I was completely despairing. But Scott's words planted a seed in my mind. I wish I could talk to him today. I would like to tell him how my opinion has changed. For now, I see the Preacher's message as good news. If the richest, wisest, King could look back on his life and realized his squandered opportunity, and warn others NOT to take the same path, then Ecclesiastes was certainly no mistake. It most definitely needs to be in the canon of Scripture, for without the Word deeply inside our souls, believed and treasured, we would all end up like the Preacher.

Ecclesiastes 11: 5 "As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything."

Solomon the Preacher's final conclusion:

Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14 " Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

"Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Ps. 51:10) David wrote those words after being shown his sin by Nathan the prophet. After he was convicted he had stolen one man's little ewe lamb, his most precious possession, and to make sure Uriah was to be assassinated.

How could David have committed such a heinous act? David, the man after God's own heart? Commit an act of treachery and murder in cold blood because of his own lust and greed? God had already given him many beautiful wives. But that was not enough for David. In an act of his own laziness, he stayed home one day and didn't go to the battle with his men. That made him available to behold the beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop. When he saw Bathsheba, he did not care that she belonged to another man, a man with more integrity than he. David in his lust demanded her, and you know the rest of the story.

Uriah died because he was an honorable man and would not violate his principles. He would not sleep with his wife while the battle raged, even though David wanted him to in order to cover up the pregnancy he, himself, had induced.

We look at David and shake our heads. "Oh David, how could you?" Nathan told David, "You are the man" when he told the story of how the man was robbed of his one precious ewe lamb in II Samuel 12: 7.

But don't you see how David represents all of us? WE ARE THAT MAN! Maybe we never murdered anyone and stole their wife or husband. But Jesus said if you are angry without cause at your brother you are in danger of judgment in Matthew 5:22. Or if you call your brother a fool you are in danger of hell fire in the same verse!

That tends to knock the self righteousness out of me. For I know I have gotten angry with other drivers on the highway more than just a couple of times. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. If Jesus Christ judged us by the Law of Moses, I would be sunk, down to the deepest pit, with no hope of rescue. I think the story of David and his sin with Bathsheba was included here NOT just for the sake of history. For those who do not receive God's free gift of righteousness through Christ's atoning work on Calvary, they WILL be judged according to their works, and NO ONE will be good enough on their own. (Read the sobering verses in Revelation 20: 11-15.)

1 Corinthians 10:11 states: "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."

Do you see maybe a higher purpose here? How quickly we can point our fingers at others. Funny, the ones I point fingers at, are pointing back at me. How much we despise seeing in others our own wicked failures.

I am so relieved the story does not end with the condemnation of the Law. If it did, there would be no hope for any of us. I have been taught the truths in the book of Romans are foundational. You can't really make progress in your spiritual life without mastering them. I do not claim to have mastered them. I have listened to them on MP3 over and over, especially the beginning chapters. In chapters 1 and 2 Paul lays a case for why we are all condemned and in chapter 3 states that all men have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. (Romans 3: 23)

But I cannot help but rejoice when I get to chapter 4, when Paul talks about having to work to try to "earn" your salvation. It is the total opposite of that in Romans 4:4:

"Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt."

You see, that man thinks he has achieved his salvation by being better, in our example above, than David. He has never gone out and committed murder by stealing another man's wife, impregnating her, and killing off her husband.

"I am certainly more righteous than David, " that person might think in his heart.

But whoa, or woe, actually might be the better term. Read Matthew 5: 27-8.

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' "But I {Jesus} say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has ALREADY committed adultery with her in his heart."

This is where the grace of Christ Jesus comes in. We ALL need it. For no one can live up to the Law of Moses. Try it sometime, and see how far it gets you. It is far better to confess your sin on a moment by moment basis, and as David, the lover of God did, ask for the creation of a clean heart.

Paul goes on in Romans 4: 5-8:

his faith is accounted for righteousness,
JUST AS DAVID ALSO describes the blessedness of the man to
whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
"Blessed are those whose
lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the
LORD shall not impute sin."

That is why I say David had more understanding than we do! Yes, David the sinner! Before I look at anyone else, I need to examine myself, and see whether or not I am in the faith. (II Cor. 13: 5)

"Create a clean heart in me, O God."

Friday, April 19, 2013

One Day Soon...All will be Right

So many unsettling things are happening lately, acts of terror, earthquakes everywhere, devastating disasters, wars and rumors of wars, economic market collapses, flying fireballs from heaven, sinkholes swallowing people alive, to name a few. Who knows just what is really going on?

God does.

God alone.

In my reading this morning, I was blessed by Psalm 94.

In verse 11, it reduces all man's so-called knowledge, cunning, and conniving:

"The LORD knows the thoughts of man,
That they are futile."

The word for futile in the Hebrew, according to the Blue Letter Bible, is hebel, is pronounced heh'vel and is
Strong's #1892.

It means:

1) vapour, breath

a) breath, vapour

b) vanity (fig.)

So, in God's estimation, plans that are created to cause fear and terror in men's hearts are vanity.

God gives great encouragement to the believer in Christ who is living in these "perilous times." These are not times to cower in fear, but to strengthen our hearts in God and Christ, just like David did thousands of years ago. The words the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 94 are just as relevant NOW as when penned years before Messiah came.

Muse on these words, see how relevant they are to NOW:

94:12 "Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O LORD,
And teach out of Your law,

94:13 "That You may give him rest from the days of adversity
Until the pit is dug for the wicked.


94: 15 "But judgment will return to righteousness,
And all the upright in heart will follow it.


94: 18 "If I say, 'My foot slips,"
Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up."


So, there was the Old Testament's "magic pill" for anxiety, which was all the Jews had at the time. King David especially, lover of God's Torah, puts us to shame. We have the completed Word and yet David understood God's essence much better than we do! Right now, it is time for us to store up in our souls the Word of God, the only light that shines in this world of darkness that is reigned over by the prince of the power of the air.(See Ephesians 2:2)

There is refuge in no other person, no other hope found anywhere. There are no human solutions to the mess this world is in. Delight in the Lord (Psalm 1: 2), He will not let you down (Hebrew 13: 5). While we wait for His blessed appearing to come again in glory, I love what the prophet Isaiah instructs us to do:

Isaiah 26:20 "Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past."

The Lord will come and make things right on this planet. The Lord is a just and righteous judge, He is never unfair.(Revelation 16: 5-7).

Isaiah 26: 21 "For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain."

"Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For Your judgments have been manifested."

Revelation 15: 4

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Looking Beyond an Aurora...

Last night, in my own locality, it was predicted by meteorologists that we had a "good" chance of viewing auroras caused from the M 6.5 solar flare that shot off from the sun last week.
But I know in our area that we get lots of cloud cover. Still I hoped that I would get a chance to see the first aurora of my lifetime. A rare occurrence here, for sure. As evening fell, it remained cloudy. My husband said to wait until it got very dark. So I kept looking north out of our front window, but every time I did, there was nothing to see. My husband got up and looked in the night time as well, but also saw nothing.

Nothing to see here, folks... move along...

I was musing about this. I was peering into the heavens for an aurora. But one day soon, we will behold something else far greater than the beauty of the "Northern Lights," as they are called.

Compasses are made to give us bearings. To give us a sense of direction. The compass is always to point to True North. True North points to Ouranos.

What is Ouranos?

In the Blue Letter Bible, in the Outline of Biblical Usage it is described as:

1) the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it

a) the universe, the world

b) the aerial heavens or sky, the region where the clouds and the tempests gather, and where thunder and lightning are produced

c) the sidereal or starry heavens

2) the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings

You see, a very special Someone is going to come from the place called Ouranos.

We are actually told to be anticipating this One.

In I Thessalonians 1:10 we are told to wait:

"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."

Rignt now is a time of confusion. So many different voices are crying out with different schemes and methods, all crying for us to pay attention to them. But the Spirit's voice is a still, small voice.

He is not a voice of condemnation. He is not a voice of accusation.

He is a voice of grace. A voice that calls you to come into the peace, love and abundant life of the One who will come again from Ouranos.

We are not to look for the antichrist, but for the Son from Heaven, before whom one day we will all bow.
"that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bow,
of those in heaven,
and of those on earth,
and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2: 10-11

Maybe it was good that I did not see the aurora for,

1 Corinthians 2:9 states "But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

That is my destiny, if I love Him. And that can be your prospect, too, if you, also, are one who is anticipating the Son from heaven...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

"Stand on Your Own Two Faith"

My husband always has a way of encouraging me to not run to people all the time to get advice. He tells me,

"Stand on your own two faith."

Now what does he mean by that? My husband knows me better than anyone on the planet. He knows what value I place on my faith, the Bible, and all its promises. But he also sees me in my weaknesses.

All of my life I have struggled with decision making. Now in matters pertaining to our household and family, I know whom I am to ask: my husband. For God has given him the authority in our relationship (not to be a cruel taskmaster) but because that's the way it has been ordained for Christian marriage ever since the Garden of Eden.(Genesis 3: 16) It is for my safety.

But in other things I often felt like I was just swaying back and forth, listening to whomever would come along and sound the most persuasive. Standing up for myself against strong personalities has never been my advantage.
And so, I often ended up saying I would do something and knowing in my heart I really didn't want to do it. Embarrassed, I ended up changing my mind within hours or days to everyone else's disappointment.

I knew, deep down, what was right for me. I just wanted someone to tell me I was doing the right thing. I needed validation.

Well, this should only go on for so long and then one should grow out of it. I hope that I finally am, with His grace. For this is a destructive habit that reveals, at its heart, unbelief.

For God was there, all along, just waiting for me to ask His counsel. I don't have to be a "reed shaken in the wind." How foolish of me. (Talk about being April-fooled-see my last post!)

This beautiful verse was/is the answer to my problem:

Jeremiah 33:3 "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."

Does God mean that, or is it just there to look pretty?

I need at all times to believe it, stand on my "own two faith," and wait for God to give me HIS answers. Answers that are beyond my comprehension, things I never in a trillion years could figure out on my own.

1 Corinthians 2:9 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."

How infinitely much better is that than to try to scheme on my own, in feeble attempts to people-please?

Psalm 37:7 "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth."

That sounds like a fantastic proposition to me. How about you?

Recently I was faced with a big decision that only I could make. My instinct told me to trust in the Lord and not be overcome by the words of men. I had undertaken a project by faith and wanted to finish it the same way. Yet a voice of fear came in: "What if??"

I had to make a choice. I had to "stand on my own two faith." God had led me this far. He will not fail me now.

Ephesians 6:13 "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

Monday, April 1, 2013

Don't be April Fooled

Back in the days when I wanted to be "cool," I loved to sing along with The Who in the hit song, "Won't Get Fooled Again." I wanted to "tip my hat to the new revolution" too, you know, be a part of whatever the "in" thing was. Do you remember the line where they say the new boss is the same as the old boss?

Ahh, but there is one revolution that started 2,000 years ago that this world has never been able to put down, no matter how hard they have tried. Believe me, they have tried. But I have read the back of the Book and I know who wins!

One cruel master seemed to be in charge of this planet. He had all men cowering in fear of "the" dreaded foe: death.But look what Hebrews 2: 14 and 15 proclaims that Christ accomplished for us at Calvary:

14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

For no matter who you were, famous or unknown, you could not evade death calling at your door one day. And so all you could do was hope for the best. But the God of the Hebrews had promises unlike all of the other people groups of the world. And they were promised one day a Son would be given for them (and for everyone):

The prophet Isaiah told them in chapter 9 verse 6: "For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

He continued in verse 7: "Of the increase of [His] government and peace [There will be] no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."

Unfortunately, when Christ came and presented Himself to the Jews as Messiah, most of them rejected Him. They will not realize it until the time of the Great Tribulation. Then they will realize and call upon the One whose side was pierced for them, yes, and for all mankind. (see my post- Peace and Safety?)

John 10: 1 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."

In looking at the first verse of John 10:1, where Jesus says He is the door, who provides the entrance for the sheep to come in and find pasture. He then says the enemy is a thief and a robber. The word for thief is "kleptes" meaning an embezzler, pilferer. This name is transferred to false teachers sometimes. The word for robber is "lestes" meaning robber, plunderer, freebooter, brigand. It can mean one who plunders openly and by violence.

I skipped down to John 10 verse 10 then where Jesus says:

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have [it] more abundantly."

I looked up the word for kill, but when I got to the word DESTROY I did a double take! This is what I saw:

ä-po'l-lü-mē (Key)

Part of Speech

Root Word (Etymology)

From ἀπό (G575) and the base of ὄλεθρος (G3639)

TDNT Reference
View Entry

Outline of Biblical Usage 1) to destroy

a) to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin

b) render useless

c) to kill

d) to declare that one must be put to death

e) metaph. to devote or give over to eternal misery in hell

f) to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed

2) to destroy

a) to lose

So this is what you get if you don't choose to go in the "Door!" Talk about being fooled. You will not drink beer with your buddies down there, OK? Your thirst will never be quenched. I didn't say it, Jesus did. (Luke 16: 24-31)

My friends, it couldn't be any clearer. Christ revolutionized world history when He came to this planet 2,000 years ago. Even famous evolutionists cannot deny it, though they've tried very hard.

Jesus doesn't ask any more from you than to come into the sheepfold through belief in what He did for you.

This April fool's day, do not be a fool.