Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hang on in this New Year!

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Jude 1:21

The year 2014 has quickly come and gone and we have seen some crazy things happen. I write this poem to encourage myself, and to encourage my readers to hang onto our profession of faith in 2015. He is worthy of our praise and loyalty, both in the coming year and always.

As a New Year Dawns...

Though all hell tempts us otherwise
Hang on to the Son
Hang on to His victory
Til the great battle's done.

Sometimes it feels like
God's gone far away
Yet that's when He begs us
Close by Him to stay.

Strange trials and testings
Get stronger each day
Yet hang on to Jesus
He'll show us the way.

Just when you wanted to
faint and to quit
He calls You now to Him
In His Presence to sit.

A new year approaches
While we still live in time
God lives in eternity
His Presence sublime.

Hang on though the day fades
Between darkness and light
In the presence of Jesus
There shall be more night.

copyright 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014

Resting in the Savior's Sanctuary

"A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary." Jeremiah 17:12

Did you ever wonder why things are the way they are in your life? I know I have wondered it for mine. I think back to when I was just ready to graduate from high school and my "whole life" ahead of me. Such dreams, such hopes. And here I am today, over thirty years later with most of my life behind me now. There are some things I wish I had never gone through, but yet they happened any way.

If it were not for the truth contained in the above verse, I often could feel sad by the way some things have turned out, by the way things seem to appear in my life. But God is sovereign, and He has a purpose beyond mine. In that I can rejoice. Before I ever was conceived, God had my whole life known before Him. He knew all the things that would happen, and yet He allowed them for a reason.

Another verse of great comfort is II Corinthians 2:14: "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." Now how does God do that? How could He possibly lead me in triumph in everything? Only one way, if I keep trusting Him that He knows everything that is going on in my life and is working it for my absolute good.

Life is tough, but God is always there. He knows all things that will happen to us in the future, and desires to work them for our ultimate good. When I know that God is sovereign over every little detail of my life, then my anxious heart can find rest in Him. He knows me, He knows all about me. What peace I can gain from that thought. He is not just sitting up there on a throne, waiting for me to make a mistake so He can beat me over the head somehow. No, I read about Jesus doing the very opposite for me:

In the book of Hebrews, chapter 7, Kenneth Wuest translates verse 25 this way: "He is able also to be saving completely and forever those who come to God through Him, being always alive for the purpose of continually making intercession for them."

That doesn't sound like a God ready to "get me" but a God of compassion, a God who knows everything about me and yet He loves me somehow. David wrote in Psalm 139:1-6:

1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 ​​You know my sitting down and my rising up;
​​You understand my thought afar off.
3 ​​You comprehend my path and my lying down,
​​And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 ​​For there is not a word on my tongue,
​​But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
5 ​​You have hedged me behind and before,
​​And laid Your hand upon me.
6 ​​Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
​​It is high, I cannot attain it.

If this is really true, then I do not need to be afraid of hiding anything from God. Indeed I cannot hide anything from Him. He knew all of my life and every thought I would think, before I even existed. All He wants me to do is trust Him, that He is working things for the good, that He will take care of every detail of my life. He is ever concerned, ever involved, ever caring in my life.

In His Word, God proves He is ever concerned in every trial:

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength,
​​A very present help in trouble.
2 ​​Therefore we will not fear,
​​Even though the earth be removed,
​​And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 ​​Though its waters roar and be troubled,
​​Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

7 ​​The LORD of hosts is with us;
​​The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

In His Word, God proves He is ever involved with all the details of our life:

Psa 71:5-6
For You are my hope, O Lord GOD;
You are my trust from my youth.

By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb.
My praise shall be continually of You.

Finally, in His Word, God proves He is ever caring of all our needs and burdens:

I Peter 5
​6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.​

In fact, He cares for me because I am in His Son, and He loves me with the very same love that He has for His Son, for Jesus prayed for us in John 17, asking His Father:

"O holy Father, maintain a watchful care over them in Your name, which You have given Me, in order that they may be one even as we." (John 17:11, Wuest translation)

"And I made known to them Your name, and will make it known, in order that the love with which You loved Me might be in them and I might be in them." (John 17:25, Wuest transl.)

Again, in the epistle of I John chapter 3, verses 1 and 2 are translated by Kenneth Wuest like this:

"Behold, what exotic (foreign to the human heart) love the Father has permanently bestowed upon us, to the end that we may be named children (born-ones, bairns) of God. And we are. On this account, the world does not have an experiential knowledge of us, because it does not have an experiential knowledge of Him. Divinely loved ones, now born ones of God we are. And not yet has it been made visible what we shall be. We know absolutely that whenever it is made visible, like ones to Him shall we be, because we shall see Him as He is."

These are just a few verses that prove that God knows all about us and our situations and is sovereign over every detail. He has done everything He possibly could to give us a sense of security and love, in spite of whatever is going on around us. Because of this, we can thank Him for all things, and when we do, it lifts us above our problems to His glorious throne, the blessed place of our sanctuary, both now and forever.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pondering God's Portion, Path, Presence, and Pleasures in Psalm 16

Psalm 16:11 "You will show me the path of life;In Your presence is fullness of joy;At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It proves that a Christian in fellowship with God is the happiest of all people on the planet. They are not bound up by a bunch of rules and regulations, but have the glorious liberty of the sons of God. In fact, we are promised that in II Corinthians 3:17: "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." It is the opposite of what the world thinks. The world thinks Christians are miserable, and they can be, if they are only carnal. But the Spirit of God abiding with us always gives us hope and peace, even in difficult circumstances.

It is not having everything going right that makes a person happy. It is in knowing the Person who is Peace Personified. In Psalm 16, my Bullinger Companion Bible had a note about a note about 4 very important "P's" in verses 5 and 11. We receive these when we become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

1. A portion "The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot." Psalm 16:5

Verse 11 contains three more blessings:

2. Guidance for our path "Thou wilt show me the path of life..."

3. The presence of the Lord in our lives "In Thy presence is fullness of joy"

4. Finally, pleasures at His right hand if we are overcomers. "At Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore."

What beautiful gifts from God. The word for portion in verse 5 is manah. (#4487) It can mean a part, a portion or a lot. Did you ever think about what a privilege we have to have God included in our "lot in life?" Yes, we must make a decision to believe in Christ but He also chose us from the foundation of the world. We need to remember, especially in times of difficulty, that God will always be our portion. He is faithful to us, even if we lose faith in Him. Jesus promised in John 10:28-29: "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them to Me,is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." This verse was the one that really convinced me of eternal security, because we are not strong enough to even pluck ourselves out of God's hand, even if we wanted to. Thank God!

"My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." Psalm 73:26

"Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words." Psalm 119:57

"I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living." Psalm 142:5

"The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." Lamentations 3:24

The Lord also will show us the path of life, if only we are willing. Whenever I go my own way, I end up in despair because I do not ultimately know what is best for me. Only God knows what is the best for me. Therefore, I can trust the path that He leads me on, even if it is through dark valleys at times, because He promises to work all things for good to those who love Him.

"Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies." Psalm 27:11

"Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight." Psalm 119:35

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105

"Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways." Psalm 139:3

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path... Psalm 142:3

"But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Proverbs 4:18

"Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;" Isaiah 43:16

His presence within our lives is what gives me the courage to face each day, even though this world is filled with trouble. Sometimes, I cut off my sense of His Presence by my own personal sins. It makes me want to confess them and run back to my Father as quickly as I can. It is my belief that those in hell will experience just the opposite: a total lack of His presence and or any sense of well being forever and ever. What an awful thought. But if only we take His free gift of salvation we need never be afraid of being eternally separated from His presence.

"And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden." Gen. 3:8 (This is how humanity first went hiding from God's presence.)

"And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." Exodus 33:14

"Glory and honour are in His presence; strength and gladness are in His place." I Chronicles 16:27

"Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because He cometh to judge the earth." I Chronicles 16:33

"If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in Thy presence, (for Thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then Thou wilt hear and help." II Chronicles 20:9

"Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy presence from the pride of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues." Psalm 31:20

'For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?" I Thessalonians 2:19

"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." Jude 24-25

Finally, we enjoy true and lasting happiness when we seek Him first and His kingdom. The pleasures He has for us, like David told us about in Psalm 16, are beyond what any eye can see or ear can hear,far beyond what this world has to offer. (See I Corinthians 2:9)

"If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures." Job 36:11

"They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures." Psalm 36:8

At this holiday season, there is no better time to "take the cup of salvation"(Psalm 116:13), and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ , who died as a substitute for all of the world's sins. In believing that it included you personally, you also will be able to enjoy these magnificent promises from God's Word. I want to wish you, my dear reader, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And that is all because Jesus is the Reason for the Season, and our hope and joy in the life to come.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Christmas Hope

Isaiah 40:1 "Comfort, O comfort my people," says your God. Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received from the Lord's hand Double for all her sins.

Christmas comes on the shortest and darkest time of the year for us here in the Western Hemisphere. In my area, most of the November and December days are pretty gray and dark, saying nothing of the bitter cold of January and February soon to follow. Holidays, thought to be a happy time, can evoke painful memories of people we once had in our lives who are no longer with us, through death or their own choice to separate from us for some reason. No matter the reason why, these losses seem more difficult at the holidays.

I read of many Christians being driven from their homes by persecutors, or those even being martyred for their faith. I have read of bombs being dropped on Christian villages in Africa, and of millions of Syrian refugees, living in camps. Though I have had what I would consider a difficult year, my suffering does not compare in any way to theirs. And yet, even though there is so much evil in this world, I rejoice when Christmas rolls around each year.

It is not because of presents, but I am reminded of His Presence, the best present of all. It is staggering to think that God Himself would reduce Himself to a tiny baby, and choose to be born not in a palace like royalty, but in a filthy, cold manger among animals. It is unimaginable to think that the very Creator of all the world came to visit us in His Incarnation yet mankind could find no place for Him in their inns. That He knew quite well all the suffering He would have to endure, but chose it gladly so that He could call us His brothers and sisters.

If I focus on people and my hurts, yes, I could be depressed on Christmas. But I choose to delight in the fact that this very God could love me,
me, and not only me, but all the other sinners of this world as well. He loved me so much that He took care of everything that would stand in the way of me having a relationship with Him. He actually took my own sin and shame upon Himself and gave me His very own righteousness in its place. There is no other religion on this planet that can offer you that.

"...God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation."
"He made Him who knew no sins to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." II Corinthians 5:19,21

Buddhism may proport to give karma, but only God can pour forth abundant grace upon grace upon undeserving creatures. I love what John the Apostle says: "For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." John 1:16-17

If I focus on my failures, again, I could be depressed on Christmas. But my slate has been wiped totally clean and each day I receive a fresh start to grow in grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior. For you see, God does not look at my sins, or yours either. They were all taken away on a single day. That is why David the King, who committed such a great sin as killing Uriah the Hittite, could say: "How blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! (Psalm 32:1)

I am not saying that we can just get away with sin with no consequences, but I am saying that God will not charge us with our sin, for He charged them all to Christ. It is to our advantage not to sin, for we will reap what we sow. But, as it says in I John 2:1-2: "...And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for ours; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

If I focus on the world around me, once again, I could get very depressed this Christmas season. In fact, when I think of all the waste of food and money in this country on the holiday while most of the world is starving, it does make me pretty sad. But, there is coming a day when righteousness and peace will reign in this world. For my Savior not only died for the sins of the world, but He is also coming again to put down evil forever and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The way things are going on this planet, I believe it won't be much longer until He does come again for His Second and final Advent. This time, it will not be as a meek and mild baby, but as a victorious King. Zechariah 14:3-4, 9, states:

"Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations (*who oppose Him), as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south...And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one." (*my explanation)

If you happen to be reading this without the assurance that you know this wonderful Person named Jesus Christ, you can know Him today! Simply believe that God sent His only begotten Son to take your place on the cross, that He paid in full for your sins and was raised from the grave never to die again. For you see, this simple verse of John 3:16 is really the best Christmas present of all: "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."

Give yourself the best this Christmas. Believe in Christ today.