Friday, April 29, 2016

Always being led to Triumph

"For every beast of the forest is Mine,
And the cattle upon a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the mountains,
And the wild beasts of the fields are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell
you; For the world is Mine, and
all its fullness...
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver
you, and you shall glorify Me."

Psalm 50: 10-12, 15

Many years ago, a good friend  who faced a hard trial of faith shared with me a life-changing verse. For all who dare to believe it, it is tucked away in II Corinthians, chapter 2. If only we would believe it, life would be so much more pleasant, each moment an opportunity for happiness.

It simply says:

"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."

To my doubting mind, I surely want to jump in there with some kind of reservation. "Always, Lord? But what about that time when....?"

This morning I read this verse again. In my Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (3rd edition, Jay P. Green, Sr., editor) the transliterated verse reads like this:

"But to God thanks the (One) always leading in triumph us in Christ, and the odor of the knowledge of Him revealing through us in every place."
(page 554)

I looked up the word always in Zodhiates' Complete Word Study Dictionary. It is the word pantote (#3842 in Strong's). The definition is: "Always, at all times, ever." This same word is also used in Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, Luke 15:31, Luke 18:1 and John 6:34.

No room for an exception there.

Then I looked up the word triumph. It is #2358 in Strong's and is the word thriambeuo and in this verse it means "to cause to triumph."

If we look with sight eyes, we ask God how ever in this world this verse could be true. There have been disappointments in my life, big ones, yet II Corinthians 2:14 says what it says. Moreover, it was written by the Apostle Paul, who went through a few things like being stoned to death, beaten with rods, shipwrecked and afflicted with a disease that God would not take away. Just little things like that.

I was talking to a friend the other day who expressed a disappointment in one way her life had turned out. I was stumped afterwards. How can we be disappointed with the way things turn out if we believe that He is always leading us to triumph?

Even in dark, difficult places, this verse is in the Word of God. It is Divinely inspired and written for our comfort and encouragement. If I accept this verse, I feel a heavy yoke of disappointment with my own life being traded for faith in an unchanging benevolent God who works all things (not some things) for my ultimate good.

I love how Kenneth Wuest translates Romans 8:28 in his expanded translation of the New Testament.

And we know with an absolute knowledge that for those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely summoned ones according to His purpose.  (page 366)
And in the Amplified Bible Romans 8:28 is translated this way:

We are assured and know that (God being a partner in their labor), all things work together and are (fitting into a plan) for good to those who love God and are called according to (His) design and purpose.

"For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:19-21

I am comforted in believing these promises, no matter what the enemy may whisper in my ear. It is time for me to put up my shield of faith! I implore you to do the same.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

To the Praise of His Glory

"You visit the earth and cause it to overflow; You greatly enrich it; The stream of God is full of water; You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth. You water its furrows abundantly, You soften it with showers, You bless its growth.
You have crowned the year with Your bounty, And Your paths drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip, And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing. The meadows are covered with flocks And the valleys are covered with grain; They shout for joy, yes, they sing.    Psalm 65:9-13

I love this time of year. I love it when the trees are still hinting at their greenery, not yet fully displayed. For with that hint, it reminds me of God's faithfulness. Even in nature we hear the Lord telling us that He loves us, cares for us, when we hear the beauty of the birds or see the violets bloom in all their regal splendor. He cared enough to make that birdsong for us, He cared enough to let our eyes feast on the beauteous colors displayed  through gentle blossoms every new spring.

I turned off the computer early last night. No rest or peace came through the worldwide web so I searched through some of the books in my library to aid me in Bible study. I happened upon one I bought years ago but never took the time to read.

This old volume was penned by Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, and entitled Major Bible Themes. First published in 1926, it contains chapters of all the basic tenets of our theology, followed with questions to sum up the points made in each chapter. Chafer reminded me that when things around me don't appear to make sense, I must trust beyond what I see with my physical eyes and see instead with the eyes of faith. My existence at this time of human history is not about me, what I can accomplish or even having a great family. We are all part of something much bigger than that. He writes what the purpose of the Bible is:

We understand from the written Word of God that there is one supreme purpose which actuates God in all that He has done or will do from the beginning of creation to the farthest reaches of eternity whether it is in Heaven or on earth. For this one purpose angels were created; so, also, the material universe and man, and though hidden behind an inscrutable mystery, we know that even sin was permitted and redemption was provided with a view to the realization of this supreme purpose. This supreme purpose is the Glory of God.
 Ahh, even the bad things will somehow be shown one day that they were allowed in a plan that would eventually end up redounding to His praise. For He even tells us in Psalm 76:10: "For the wrath of man shall praise You..." Unless I know the attributes of God, that nothing evil could ever come from Him, I know that I would stumble by reading this verse. How can He make even bad things work for His praise? Chafer continues:

That God should bring all things to pass that He might be glorified would seem self-seeking to an infinite degree, from a mere human viewpoint; but this theme cannot be limited to the range of human conceptions. In the light of Scripture revelation, we conclude that because God is infinite in His being, His perfections, and His blessedness He is worthy of infinite glory, and it would be an injustice of infinite proportions should His creation withhold from Him that honor and glory which are rightfully His.
(Quotes from Major Bible Themes, pages 15-16. Published 1926, 1953 by Dallas Theological Seminary, written by Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer.)

Knowing it is all about His glory alone gives me a reason to want to continue growing in His grace and in the knowledge of Him with the rest of the days allotted to me. None of us knows when God will call us home, but while I have my breath I can still pursue the knowledge of this wonderful, benevolent God who left the glory of heaven to redeem me to Himself. If I keep my heart fixed on that, life is bearable.  We can trust that God is still in control, even when it appears that things are out of His control.As the Apostle Paul tells us emphatically states:

Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable are His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
 He will be glorified, whether I live agreeing with that or not, so why make it hard on myself? Today I agree with You God, You are worthy of my love and praise. You are the only One who brings my heart peace, and one day soon, all created beings, even Your enemies, will end up giving praise and glory to You, Amen.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Days of our Lives

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary and tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength: They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary."
Isaiah 40: 28-31

I recently traveled to the Midwest to visit with my relatives. I accompanied my elderly parents, riding  for two days straight both ways, with about 4 days for visiting. When I was a little girl, I made this trip many times during the summer with my parents and two sisters. We girls loved it as it always seemed an adventure, sitting on tractors, watching the cows and chasing the barn cats. This trip made me think about the quick passing of my life, and the benefits of having God for my strength for each day.

God faithfully bestowed safe travels and good times with our beloved relatives. Even though our legs cramped and backs ached, God renewed our strength. As I am in midlife now, I see things so much differently than way back then. Mainly, I have been thinking about the passing of time, and how quickly one red letter day fades into the next. We visited the graves of our departed relatives, who are only in our memories now.

It made me think about my own life. We talked about relatives that had passed away. What might people of what people  say of me when I pass away, what will I  be remembered for? Do I really believe that there is a day appointed for me to die as well as them? How then should I live today as if I might depart and go and be with the Lord tomorrow?

 God is always faithful on His part. I only hope and pray that He will find that I have been faithful unto Him as well. Each day His promises seem to grow more precious. Each day I must make choices each day on whether to spend time doing things that entertain me, or make deposits that end up with heavenly rewards.

While the world laughs and carries on as if there is no God, we who believe know that one day this life, this world of iniquity that we live in will be dissolved in an instant.  In yesterday's sermon, my Pastor Scott Warne reminded us that the time allotted us is given to help us gain momentum in our spiritual life. It comes from learning His Word and results in us being a blessing to others. There is a day approaching, even after being guaranteed my salvation through faith in Christ, I will give an account to the Lord for what I did with the time He gave me while I lived on Planet Earth.

Now is the time of opportunity. Tomorrow will be too late.

If you aren't sure you have eternal life, you can choose today to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that He died bearing your sins to the cross and that God the Father was satisfied with His payment so He rose Jesus up from the grave three days later. See John 3:16, and II Corinthians 5: 20-21. In believing this, you will receive eternal life as a totally free gift. It is the one crucial choice each human being must make, and to put it off means to say no to it.

Eternal life is waiting, will you answer the call?

And for those of us that believe,God will help us to learn the precious truths in His word while we have our life and vitality, if only we are willing.