Friday, February 27, 2015

Fill My Cup Lord

Psalm 16:5-8 5 ​​O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;You maintain my lot.6 ​​The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;​​Yes, I have a good inheritance.
​7 ​​I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel;My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.8 ​​I have set the LORD always before me;
​​Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

God will be with me today. Though I awoke in the "night seasons,", I can trust Him to fill my cup today. God's cup is filled with grace and today is the day to drink to the dregs the cup of salvation that He offers, while we are still in the age of grace. Both the believer and unbeliever are bid to come and drink from it.

Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;You anoint my head with oil;

Psalm 116:13 I will take up the cup of salvation,And call upon the name of the LORD.

This cup of grace swirls with endless tints of green, the color most psychologically pleasing to man. This is shown in the emerald throne in heaven in Revelation 4:3:"And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald."

Because Jesus drank a cup that we could never drink, the cup of God's holy wrath over the sins of mankind, we are able to freely drink of His grace and be with Him one day to behold the emerald throne. He drank the cup of wrath to the dregs so we would not have to ever taste it.

Matthew 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.
44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

On the other hand, there is another cup which also is quickly filling. Time on earth is running out. Today is the day of salvation.

II Corinthians 6:2:"For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you,And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (emphasis mine)

One day soon, the time will be up and the throne of grace will no longer be afforded. There will only be a white throne of judgment against unbelievers, and God will destroy evil completely.

Jeremiah 25:15 For thus says the LORD God of Israel to me: “Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it."

Revelation 14:9-11: 9 "Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” (emphasis mine)

Salvation is provided courtesy of Jesus Christ when He was lifted high on Calvary's cross, not from anything we could ever do to earn it. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

A simple change of mind from unbelief to faith can change forever which cup you will drink from.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Earning or Believing?

"how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Hebrews 9:14

The Christian life is not easy but impossible to us by our first birth. How many years has it taken me to learn that? And I need reminded every single day!

At the Goodwill the other day, I found a little gem of a devotional called "None but the Hungry Heart." Edited by Miles J. Stanford, author of The Complete Green Letters, it is filled with snippets from some of the great teachers in Christianity. Apparently this devotional ran as a series, starting in 1968 and ran through 1987. My volume was from 1968. Perusing through it, I found an entry called "Mount Sinai, Mount Zion" for Feb. 23, where the message comes from Hebrews 12:18. ("For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest,")

There is a world of difference we see between Mount Sinai where Moses received the law from God, vs. Mount Zion, which speaks of a "new and living way," entering into God's favor through the grace of Christ. The devotional by an author with the initials C.A.C. (not sure who that is ), reads:

"So long as one thinks that his blessing depends in any way, or in any degree, upon himself, he is under the shadow of Sinai, and naturally we all gravitate in that direction. Many truly converted persons are more occupied with themselves, and in trying to improve their own condition, than in seeking to learn the grace of God. The result is that where there is a shallow work of the soul they get lifted up with pride and conceit, and perhaps deceive themselves so far as to think there is no sin in them."

I don't know about you, but when I first was saved I tried so hard to be good. When I thought I did pretty good for the day somehow I thought that God was more pleased with me than on days where I committed a "whopper" sin. Then when I thought I had done pretty well, it was easy to look down on others critically. Somehow, Christ died to save me eternally but as far as the day to day went, well, that was still my job. After a long time, I knew that I really did not have what it took to live a life that pleased Him. All the while, though, I pasted on my Sunday Christian smile and kept up the facade. One day, though, I had enough and was ready to quit trying.

Instead of that being a bad thing, it was the best thing!I began a new way of life learning of the grace of God. God is very pleased with me because when He looks at me He sees the righteousness of Christ, not me in my trespasses and sins. He already dealt with them once and for all (seeing them in the future, for me), and when Jesus cried "It is finished," then the punishment for them was complete. Romans 4 says that if we work we are owed wages, as if we are trying to "earn" our Christianity, but when we believe in the finished work of Christ, we receive the gift of righteousness by faith.

Romans 4:4-5 "Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,"

If we did nothing to earn it, then why do we think we have to maintain it by good works? We can't, but that really is good news. We then don't have to expect anything good coming from ourselves, but keep on relying on Christ living inside of us to do the works that are pleasing to God.

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." II Corinthians 3:5-6

Reading in the Gospel of Luke, I've been using William Barclay's commentary (The Daily Bible Study Series). In the portion in Luke 7:11-17,
Jesus encounters the widow at Nain, who just lost her only son. Jesus had such compassion (in raising the young man from death), that there was no stronger word for it in all the Greek language. He identified fully with the plight of the stricken woman, and did what only He could do, bring the dead back to life.

In the same way, He has compassion on us. He knows that we cannot do it. It is like He is tapping His foot, just waiting for us to acknowledge that fact, and to look to Him then for everything we need, right down to producing in us what He requires of us. Another quote from January 13 (in None but the Hungry Heart) by T.Austin Sparks sums it up beautifully:

"It is for want of a complete or adequate realization of the meaning of the Cross, that so many Christians are carnal, or try to live for God out of themselves...There is much prayer for 'revival,' and much effort for 'the deepening of the spiritual life.' The only answer to this is a new knowing of the Cross, not only as to sins and a life of victory over them, but as to Christ supplanting the natural man."

In letting Him live in us that we find who we really were all along!

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Seeking His Face

Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore! I Chronicles 16:11

In a ladies Bible study I attend, we discussed seeking God's face and what it really means. The "face of God" denotes His manifest presence in our lives. It is a sign of His favor and acceptance. God's face toward His children is always to give them His undivided attention like no person on this earth could do for another. And yet, He is always waiting for us to seek His face, for when we do, that is when He can really bless us like no other material gift or relationship could on this earth.

In seeking His face, we find all our souls are really longing for, something no person on earth can fill. God showed me anytime I expect any human being, (whether husband, child, sibling, parent or friend) to fill the void that only He can fill I am actually living in idolatry. Oh, I may not have a little Buddha on my mantle that I bow down to but if I put anything or any person ahead of the Lord's rightful place in my life, I may as well have a statue to worship. He wants me to run to Him instead!

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. Psalm 42:11

All God wanted to say to us, He really did say through the Person of His Son Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 1:1-4, it tells us:

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

He also says in Colossians 1: 15-18:

"15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence."

When He has preeminence in my life, my soul is finally at peace. And as I seek His face, He promises to take care of all the little details of my life, the things that occupy so much of my everyday worries, like how I will continue to survive in a world that grows darker by the day. Jesus offers me a different way to think in Matthew 7:31-34:

“31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6: 31-34

The most incredible thing about seeking God's face, to me, is that we are limited only by our own choices in this life as to how much we will seek Him. There is no point at which He would ever say to us, "That is enough seeking for you!!" No, we choose how much we want to know this wonderful, giving God who is the focal point of all human history. This is something we discussed at our study. All believers will appear before His Bema evaluation seat one day. He has given us His Word in its entirety, the Holy Spirit within, pastors and teachers plus the witness of creation all around us and the testimonies of those who have gone before. We have no excuse not to seek Him. And when we do, we find out who we really are, a brand new person who is given a fresh clean slate every day.

Galatians 6: 14-15: 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

Now is the day of salvation, now is the time to seek Him, for He is patiently waiting for us. Let us somberly consider God's warning to Solomon, who, though he received more wisdom than anyone on earth, somehow forgot how important it was to seek God's face. I Chronicles 28:9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever."

Let us humble ourselves and say to God, along with David: "When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.” Psalm 27:8

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Just who are you listening to?

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

I have to confess, I have been my own worst enemy ever since I was a little girl. I listened to what that awful voice in my head said about me, instead of what God had to say about me. It can be devastating, especially on a gloomy day when the four walls seem about ready to cave in and spring seems like it will never come.

The other day, I had a revelation. Eureka! If Jesus were with me physically in the room, He would not speak to me like I speak to myself.

"So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
Luke 4:22

He always healed whoever asked Him to, He did not condemn the woman caught in the act of adultery, He did not even condemn those who nailed Him to the tree. If He spoke graciously to all who sought Him, shouldn't I also speak graciously? And if I am not gracious to myself first, how can can I expect to be gracious to anyone else? Jesus answered a lawyer in Matthew 22:35 who tested Him asked Him a question, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

How can you love your neighbor and say kind things to him if you constantly hear only a critical voice of condemnation (first about yourself, and then others) in your head? I used to think that critical voice was the voice of God. No longer. For in all the earth, the only domain our enemy has to rule the earth is the atmosphere surrounding this unsettled, unstable planet. The enemy is called the "prince of the power of the air."

1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience," Ephesians 2:1-2

Jesus said that satan was the father of all lies in John 8:44. “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it."

Sometimes, satan puts in a half-truth to make the lie seem believable. Have you ever fallen for that? I did just yesterday. I caught myself thinking that so and so must not want to be bothered with me because she answered me a certain way. I was going to take it and run with it when I caught myself and said inwardly, "I do not have to listen to that." I cast that thought down because it was only a vain imagination, it had no substance or reality.

Have you ever thought of how many times people misunderstand each other? Because of mis-communications, wars start between countries, marriages are destroyed, friendships are ruined. Because the enemy sees our weakness and whispers something to us about the other person, then we think that is our own thought (instead of from the pit) and feel we must believe it.

That is exactly when we have to cast those things down. The enemy lost when Christ rose from the dead. He does not want to be reminded that he still losing today. Once we reject his lie, we have to fill our mind with something to replace it. That is where the Word of God comes in. We tell ourselves the Truth from the Word of God instead, no matter what we feel. Even if we have sinned, God is still loving us, and wants us to come back into fellowship so He can bless us again. That is the truth, God is never out to get us. He punished His Son for the judgment we deserve.

In an updated version of The Life of Peter by F.B. Meyer (editor Lancel Wubbels, Emerald Books, 1996, page 14) we find a glimpse of God's dealings with us, so different than the world's ways:

"Jesus speaks of things not as though they were. When the heart is broken and contrite...our Lord speaks words of encouragement and cheer. He imputes righteousness where there is but the smallest seed of faith. He addresses us, not as though we had attained or were already perfect, but as following on. He awakens our expectancy by indicating possibilities of which we never supposed ourselves to be capable. Over the grave of our hope, He speaks words of resurrection and life."

I choose to hear His voice of hope today.