Isaiah manuscript

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sheer Logic

“You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with You, the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence; You hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men, the Lord abhors.” ~Psalm 5:4-6

“’Has not My hand made all these things, and so they came into being?’ declares the Lord. ‘This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My Word.’” ~Isaiah 66:2

It is Christ who mediates for those who love Him. He has turned over the keys of the Kingdom to His Church so that what is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven; what is bound on earth is bound in heaven. What exactly has saved us from what Psalm 5 displays as God’s total rejection? Christ’s blood, shed for you, supernaturally. In whatever capacity that we are able, trusting in God’s truth IS our salvation. Am I dancing around Jesus’ claim to be the Way? His very next words are, “[I am] the Truth…” If you believe God’s truth, you believe in Christ, and visa versa. There is no separating the two. To reject God’s Holy Word, which is waiting on many a shelf to be read, is to deny His Truth and trustworthiness. Tell me this; if your dear friend wrote a book all about their personhood and how he/she had reached out to you over the years, the times you had spent together, good and bad…How could you face this friend if you didn’t read the book, AT LEAST once? God’s story in a book about these very interrelational episodes with US! How can we NOT read it when we are so, so blessed to have it?

Jesus, the Word, Logos: root of Logic. He IS the Way, the Truth, your Life. Take hold of it!

The Living Word, Jesus the Messiah, saves. If you believe and if you are seeking God, how on bloody earth can you not read the exposé? True revelation of God’s continual effort to draw His creation back home via Christ, His Son, is found only in the Holy Bible. (THAT should draw some ire if ANYONE is reading!) In the beginning, Jesus lived as a promise, then as a Son of Man, and finally continuing to live in history, in Spirit and in Truth. ALWAYS, there have been believers. The Centurion, the woman who argued with Jesus, “Even the dogs get crumbs under the table”! Some have not been exposed, yet as soon as they heard or saw, they recognized His love, His authority, His power. So how can we cope with loved ones and acquaintances who have surely loved God as Jews, who have never met Christ? How can God be loving, yet judge their limited view—our boundless God? Yet the truth remains, God is bound by His own essence. He cannot do evil, for instance. It is only one more step in your belief to know, God cannot keep evil near Himself. My friend remarked to me, “God’s holiness will consume or envelop evil.” This is a picture of God pulling sin into Himself. This is also how I picture the Cross of Christ. Jesus in the flesh kept evil for a time BUT He was required to leave His Father in heaven to do it! Please hear me out. God’s way to salvation, most assuredly, must involve choice.

I will elaborate next time.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Jesus, the Way

“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ~Jesus (John 14:6)

“I don’t believe Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father.” That is a direct quote of a Methodist baby Christian acquaintance. I respect the bold honesty and I love her no less for such a blasphemous statement. Church folk everywhere are caught in the tangle of dissected truths. Did Jesus actually say it? Did He mean it? Was He lying? Exaggerating? Perhaps we can not begin to understand such a rash claim! We don’t think like God, right? True enough, His ways are not our ways; His thoughts are certainly not ours! (Isaiah 55:8)

Since Adam and Eve, God spoke of the promised Messiah. (Genesis 3:15) and the faithful of the Old Testament had only that Promise upon which to stand—but STAND they did. Another friend of mine denies the need for the Word at all, written or incarnate. God wouldn’t set us up in a test where education and knowledge is mandatory to salvation. How very true. Heed this warning: Do not ignore His revealed Word, readily available to you, just because the rationalization fits some people’s reality. Some cannot read. Some have not had the Gospel reach their language over the years. Babies die. Gentiles were outside God’s chosen nation. Jews are blinded, veiled from seeing. Others have been raised with true faith, in their various religions and are content in their faith. Well, maybe. I am convinced that without a personal relationship with the One True God, one cannot be truly contented. Nevertheless, the sincere, innocent and God-loving humanity who die in their sins will be judged in all fairness, with truth and love, by Christ Jesus. By the way, “innocent” is a term used loosely here for even a newborn has sin by sheer fact of his human-ness. All mankind will be judged, and Judge Judy isn’t the name.

As sure as our existence and reality, Jesus is revealed in ALL THINGS…IN NATURE. I have heard and read of testimonies of instinctual faith so that when the person’s soul finally encountered the Word, in the words of the Bible or in Christ, the Savior, it was more like recognition than revelation. God is able to reveal Himself in hearts where the Word has been denied! He is also able to bring the Word to God forsaken places. Joel Rosenberg shares a story in Epicenter, where a certain townspeople had a common dream--the very same dream--concerning God's revelation; God’s holy presence and reality was made evident to an entire village! God finds a way…through Christ. The Holy Spirit moves, empowered by prayers of righteous men. So doubters are right to say, “God is not limited by a book.” Is He limited to only One path, One Way? Absolutely! But Jesus Christ is not ONLY in the Book! He lives in the temples, His namesakes. He has always lived, lives now, and forever will live supernaturally by way of His Comforter and Counselor, the Holy Spirit. This is God, the three in One. But that raises a question for another time.

“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” ~Jesus (Matthew 28:20)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Fear the Lord

“The Lord confides in those who fear Him; He makes His covenant known to them.” ~Psalm 25:14

“He will bless those who fear the Lord—small and great alike.” Psalm 115:13

“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” ~Peter (Acts 10:34-35)

“Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear ME and keep all My commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” ~God (Deuteronomy 5:29)

As the author of my Following God Bible Study wrote, “Obedience is the measure of our reverence for God.” (Barber, Rasnake, Shepherd; Life Principles of Worship from the Tabernacle; p. 7)

”They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” ~Ephesians 4:18

“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from you God; your sins have hidden His face from you; so that He will not hear.” ~Isaiah 59:1-2

“If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the Truth.” ~1John 1:6

Deception, disobedience or betrayal breaks bonds—relationship cannot survive. Oh, sure, superficially, we can be in close proximity, communicating, but alone and isolated in every way. We cannot know ourselves or each other without honesty. God will know who you are and you might even know who He is but the bond will be broken if we are not sincerely penitent toward our heavenly Father...and each other.

“For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His Name. And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him.” ~Luke 1:49-50

Friday, February 9, 2007

Holy Holy Holy Is Our God

“By those who come near to Me, I will be treated as holy and before all the people, I will be honored.” ~Leviticus 10:3

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” ~Revelation 5:12

A revelation came to me a few years back while I was leading a prayer group. It began with the query, “How can God judge our disobedience?” Take it one more, “He made us imperfect before He ultimately judges our imperfection…and this is fair?” The misconception revolves around our notion of what fair, righteous or just looks like. As people who judge imperfectly, it can get godforsaken ugly! There is expectation and conditional love, self-righteous rejection because the person failed, let you down, can’t get it together! Even when all this relational catastrophe is legit because of severe human failings and tough love is the last ditch desperation to help someone help themselves, the vision does not exactly exude love. Unconditional love is so very invisible to our short-sighted eyes. People may love wholeheartedly, biblically, near perfectly…and it will come across just badly, hurting the trust between what had seemed a bond of love. What we see appears disgustingly judgmental. Key word: appears, as in “feels like”.

So when God says He is gonna get mad, and judge with viscious wrath and put us in our place as creature, not creator, and when He needs to set us straight or wake us up, we tend to resent it! We picture it on human terms: “Oh, He thinks He’s so great!”—“So, I’m not good enough for You, huh? Since I messed up, now You’re mad at me? What’s with the conditional love? Hey, sorry I’m not PERFECT like YOU!”

Here is my revelation: Get rid of the attitude. God does not “think He’s SO great.” He IS great and He knows He’s great—without the attitude. God IS and can be no other. I’m NOT “good enough” for Him and neither are you. He knows that! You and I should know that but kinda, we forget, because we have the attitude problem, not God! The best part…I’m not convinced God’s Almighty wrath is our equivalence. We get mad, impatient and testy! Our love can be horribly conditional. God is love. Our experience of the lack of God’s love (separation by denial, guilt, shame) is a feeling of God gone missing or “Oh great, God’s angry!” But God is the GREAT I AM and His love remains perfectly constant. His holiness prevents our ability to be close with Him. He is never pushing us away…we pull away in sin.

But maybe, just maybe He is not so mad. Maybe His judgment is not the cruel, harsh, scowling law enforcement officer at all! First, the policeman, everybody knows, ain’t perfect! Second, those caught in a crime or sin, will experience the ordeal as wrath unless they have trusted the justice system to be fair, repented and understood the consequences of their behavior. The Bible refers to God’s wrath because it will be very real to those who have not trusted Him. But let’s change the script. Because God is a constant and is who He is, there are limits, EVEN FOR GOD. How many times have you thought or heard someone say, “He can do anything He wants…He’s GOD!” Try picturing God’s judgment in this more “passive” capacity. He will enact Judgment Day when He deems it time. It is His will. Now everything we know of that is good and all evil will be sorted out, perfectly and completely. The power, the wealth, the wisdom, and ALL strength, everything honorable, glorious and all things we consider blessings—WILL BE DRAWN TO GOD WHO IS LOVE, GOD WHO IS HOLY!”

You guessed it! The powerless, poverty, ignorance, weak, the dishonorable i.e. not trustworthy, liars, the inwardly ugly and cursed things will be left alone and isolated. This is not because God hates the people with these attributes. These lost souls will be kept as they were on earth, in a solitary confinement, because no one can be trusted in hell. A selfish lot where no one holds up their end of the bargain, where laughter and fun are not likely, these sorry human beings will have no basis for relationship. Relationship is based in trust which is based in love. Pathetic humanity—inklings of which are seen on Earth (just as glimpses of heaven are),---magnified to the nth degree of misery. I shudder to think. Trouble is, we don’t think. God IS the description in Revelation 5:12. All things good and holy are God! Separation from Him is the absence and opposite of the goodness of El Shaddai.

In other words, it is the law of reality. It is a fact of life (and death). Not a theory, but a principle of Truth as solid as any Law of nature. It just IS! God’s condemnation, the consequence of disobedience, is eternal separation, division from God, who cannot change Himself and cannot force us to be good and holy in the perfect sense. He can only provide an option, a gift. Christ---the Anointed One. God can only welcome us in if we choose to wear the Righteousness of the Lamb who was slain…who IS worthy. God says, the creatures who have not been born spiritually are not worthy. He says it because He is the revealer of TRUTH without the ‘tude.

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”
~Hebrews 9:14

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Ultimate Questions

“For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” ~1Samuel 16:17b

This could very well be the boulder that trips up the most people, believer and non-believer alike. I had given my life to Christ when I asked it, in my college years. Exposure to the world threatens the heartiest faith! My dear Jewish friend was not open to my beliefs, even though we had many talks. It was easy to see how someone raised in a different belief system could be blinded. Also, my faith was quite undeveloped so any skills in apologetics were impetuous and quite frankly, pathetic! The point is, I began questioning the fairness of God’s judgment. My friend “couldn’t help” his unbelief. The thing is, none of us can help ourselves! If we could, we would have bragging rights and Ephesians 2:9 assures us we do not. It was only by God’s grace that I reached a point of decision and commitment! Most would argue, “It was still easier for you,” having been Bible-fed all of my life. Here’s the rub, oh ye skeptic! My sons were fed the Word in steadier doses than me growing up, and yet they have not made a decision of faith that I am aware of. My eldest is outright hostile with God! Easier to believe when you’re immersed in the Gospel? It is not a matter of easy, difficult or impossible! God is sovereign…
“You are saved by grace, through faith…and this not of yourselves. It is a gift of God; not by works, so that NO MAN can boast!” Eph. 2:8,9

God looks favorably on this question of “fairness”. We are not here to judge a person for not accepting Christ as Lord. God would not have wanted me to be critical of my Jewish friend for his closed-mindedness. And perhaps for a time, God didn’t mind that I criticized Him instead. Years later, dark years, mind you, I heard God through another friend, saying, “Trust Me, I will not judge unfairly.” And I believed Him. If you are loving someone who rejects the truth of the Gospel, do not be afraid. You don’t know when this beloved person will see, even suddenly, as they face their own death or some harsh reality of this world. This is what we can know as promised in the Word. God can do no wrong and His judgments are Righteous.

“He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” ~Deuteronomy 32:4

“Let them sing before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the people with equity.” ~Psalm 98:9

“He will judge the afflicted with justice.” ~Psalm 72:2

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” ~Psalm 139:23-24
This is the question for February. I will be writing on the fairness of God's judgment all month. Questions (or answers) can be sent to me at godstillspeaks3 at yahoo dot com. You don't have to stick to this month's topic. Blessings to you.