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Archive for February, 2011

But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, Or take My covenant in your mouth, Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, And have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes. Psalm 50:16-21

Didn’t I just write about Psalm 50 a couple days ago? Yup, but I felt drawn by the Spirit to come back to this particular passage and peel back another layer because of its crucial significance; these are prophetic words of our Lord Jesus and he is addressing a very special group of people. Who are these folks? Those who believe in a different Jesus.

Oh, I’m not talking about Mormons, Muslims, or Jehovah Witnesses, although we could make a case for their inclusion here. No, we’re talking about the guy who may be sitting next to you in church who believes in another Jesus. The Jesus he believes in either winks at sin or says that what he’s doing is no sin at all. Like the Psalmist wrote, ‘they acquiesce with thieves, dabble in adultery, proffer evil, lie, and defame,’ all the while falsely believing Jesus is ok with it all. To that Jesus says, “You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you.”

Does that sound like anybody you know?

More importantly, does it sound like you?

Know that this is not an exhaustive list of offenses. Anyone who claims Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and habitually does things that are contrary to His word and/or contradicts His holy character is not a true believer. They have in fact taken the name of God in vain, just like the promiscuous woman who marries a man, takes his name, vows to be faithful, but then continues in her licentious activities.

Here’s the bottom line — if your Jesus has different attributes than the Jesus of the Bible, then you have made up your own God. You may call your god Jesus, but he bears no semblance to the one true and living God; he is a god of your imagination who ascribes to the lifestyle you desire to live. Look around, the world is full of them. The currant governor of New York [for one example] would fit the bill. He attends a church, regularly takes communion, all the while living with a woman who is not his wife. He has decided all on his own, that his activities are not sinful. The Jesus I follow would never approve, but the Jesus he has created apparently does. Again, Jesus will say…

You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you.

“But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15

That’s the trillion dollar question! Who do you say Jesus is? Does your Jesus line-up with the Father’s Jesus? If not, don’t panic, repent. Change your mind and God will change your heart. On the other hand, if you continue to hold onto your fairytale Jesus, one day you will most certainly hear, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

*These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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The Mighty One, God the Lord, Has spoken and called the earth From the rising of the sun to its going down. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; A fire shall devour before Him, And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, And to the earth, that He may judge His people… Psalm 50:1-4

Psalm 50 is a tutorial for the faithful, an adamant warning for the faith-less, and a prophetic representation of our Lord’s return all rolled into one. Jesus is coming back; His return is both eminent and imminent.

“Gather My saints together to Me, Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” Let the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is Judge. Selah “Hear, O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God!” Psalm 50:5-7

Here’s the truth: everyone is going to stand before Jesus; believers and nonbelievers alike. On that day, Christ’s divinity will be so incredibly apparent, these nonbelievers will become believers, but sadly it will be too late for them.

The psalm breaks down into two parts: what Jesus has to say to the saints (His followers) and what He has to say to the agnostic, atheist, doubter, heathen, pagan, unrepented skeptic. Let’s look at the good news first.

For the Believers

I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices Or your burnt offerings, Which are continually before Me. I will not take a bull from your house, Nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, Or drink the blood of goats? Psalm 50:8-13

God’s plainly saying that He doesn’t need our stuff. Parenthetically that begs the question, “So why do we give our tithe and offerings if God doesn’t need them?” The answer is that the giving is for our benefit, not His. Selah on that for a while.

The passage also points out that there is a difference between religious duty (which is not good) and religious privilege. In other words, giving is something we get to do, not have to do. I like the fact the Jesus says that He will not rebuke us if we’re giving for the wrong reasons, but rather tells us precisely what He does want.

Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Psalm 50-14-15

First, God wants our thankful praise.

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:15

Second, God wants us to keep the promises we make to Him (we aren’t required to make any vows whatsoever, but if we do, we better keep them).

When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. Deuteronomy 23:21

And finally, God wants us to communicate with and rely upon Him.

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Isaiah 55:6

For the Nonbelievers

But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, Or take My covenant in your mouth, Seeing you hate instruction And cast My words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him, And have been a partaker with adulterers. You give your mouth to evil, And your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes. Psalm 50:16-21

It’s a bizarre, and some say cruel, scene. Before Jesus stand the atheists. They have died on earth and now to their amazement they stand not in the midst of hell, but before Jesus Christ. In His awesome and undeniable presence, they now believe. Out loud, and I could imagine hysterically, they confess all their sins and swear repentance and allegiance to Jesus, but it is too late. While it is very sad, it is not cruel; they knew the truth beforehand and rejected Him. God is truth and He is just–any exceptions would make Him an unjust liar.

To make matters worse, many of these doomed souls claimed to be followers of Christ while they were alive. Jesus points out their error; they took His name, but perverted what He taught and what He stood for. Man cannot profess Jesus to be anything other then what His word the Bible says He is. Many may call Jesus by His name, but if they change His character and attributes, they worship a false god.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8

The Last Word

“Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver: Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:22-13

There we have it, the solution! God has made the way to salvation and eternal happiness incredibly easy—He has provided One way through His Son Jesus Christ. While some see ‘One Way’ has restrictive, I see it as simplicity. We have been given the easiest of decisions to make; it is a ‘yes or no’ proposition. Rather then question His methodology; we should jump at the only opportunity we have to be with Him in Heaven.

What are your thoughts?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6


These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin. But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong; And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied. Those also who render evil for good, They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good. Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! Psalm 38:17-22

As I have shared before, I study the Bible utilizing both the King James and New King James versions side by side. To date I have yet to find any verses that contradict one another, but quite often I do come across subtle nuances in the language that help me to understand the passages a little better. Today was no exception.

In Psalm 38:17 the NKJV reads, ‘For I am ready to fall.’ The KJV on the other hand substitutes the word halt for the last word. Halt tends to give the phrase a different meaning, so I looked-up the Hebrew translation and discovered that it doesn’t mean ‘to stop,’ like I originally thought, but rather ‘to limp,’ as to be hindered by a disability. The Psalmist was essentially saying to God, “I am ready to be lame.”

What in the World was David Talking About?

Reading the entire Psalm, we see that David was in a desperate place; he was suffering with a disease that was brought about by his own sin. As I read the Psalm, I don’t know if the disease was real (some surmise it could have been a sexually transmitted disease or even leprosy) or a case of David waxing poetically about how debilitating sin can be. Either way, David was suffering greatly and was ready to submit wholly to the Lord. I get the sense that when David wrote, “I am ready to halt,” he was in reality making an allusion to Jacob’s story in Genesis 32.

Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank. Genesis 32:24-32

We would recall that Jacob learned his brother Esau (and a small army) were coming to meet him and the news left Jacob greatly afraid and distressed, for he felt Esau was coming to kill him. Jacob cried out to the Lord for delivery, but he did not heed His counsel. Instead, in his flesh, he sent gifts ahead of him in an attempt to appease his brother. The passage above is what happened next and as a result of having wrestled with God, Jacob was left with a limp for the rest of his life and a new name: Israel, which means, ‘governed by God.’

When David wrote in the Psalm that he was ready to halt, he was affectively saying that he, like Jacob, was ready to be governed by God. From that point forward, King David maintained a figurative limp that identified him as one who was fully dependant upon God, as one with a limp would be fully dependant upon a staff to move forward.

Where are you in your walk? Are you ready to limp?


These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Psalm 37:3-7

A Common Question

The matter is raised by both new and mature believers alike; “I’m walking with the Lord, but I don’t know what He wants me to do with my life…what should I do?”

God knew we would ask that question, so through His servant David, He provided an answer:

“Become dependant upon Me,” God the Father says to us, “and do good; live where I have placed you and feed on My reliability.”

St Augustine put it this way, “Love God and do as you please.”

Sounds Dangerous

It does sound a little risky, because in the Book of Jeremiah we are warned that, The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it.” However the good news comes in the accompanying verse:

I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:10

God agrees: our hearts are evil. But if we (like the Psalmist tells us), delight ourselves in Him, commit our lives to Him, trust in Him, wait on Him, and rest in Him, a wonderful thing occurs—He will transform us. As we give our unconditional love to Him and trust Him, He searches our hearts and minds and essentially repairs the damage! Again, God said it this way:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts… Jeremiah 31:33a

We Need Not Worry

St Augustine might have over stated it a wee bit, but Christians who are sold-out for the Lord can do whatever they want, because they have the confidence that God has put His will upon their hearts—God’s will drives our desires.

What if I Make a Mistake

Chances are we will err from time to time. Again, the good news is that God will use those situations to refine us further! God is not going to rebuke His child (when with a right heart) he makes a mistake. Does a parent scold a child when she falls down while learning how to walk? Of course not. Nor does our Father scold His children when they endeavor to do good.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand. Psalm 37:23-24

So what should you do? If you’re delighting yourself in Him today, do whatever you feel led to do and let me know how you make out.


These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:1-4

“I will bless”—let’s break it down. ‘I’ of course makes it an individual thing; it’s the pronoun we use when we want to convey the type of person we claim to be. The word ‘will’ signifies that the act is of our free choice. And finally the word ‘bless’ means to convey something to another for the purpose of bringing pleasure. Does this describe us; are you (am I) one whose freewill is bent on blessing the Lord at all times? Is this the type of Christians we claim to be? Reflective questions not meant to bring us grief, but that we might ponder if it is a model we should be drawn to.

When we consider King David’s example our first impression may be that it was an easy thing for him to bless the Lord at al times, being king and all; living in palatial luxury. I might agree if he hadn’t written the Psalm when he was in fear of his life, fleeing from King Saul, feigning to be a madman before Abimelech so he wouldn’t be killed. In one of the worst times of his life, David willed to bless the Lord with his praises. It’s who he was. David praised the Lord during the good times, but he also continually and consistently praised Him in the bad times too. Why? Because it was a blessing to the Lord; it was David’s sacrifice of praise.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

Delivered!

We know that David was delivered from this and many other troubling situations. That should give us pause. Do you keep a prayer journal? Let’s go back a year or two and read about the things we were asking of the Lord. What happened? I submit to you that there is a very good chance we were delivered; sicknesses were cured, jobs were found, ministries were grown, relationships were healed, and the bills were paid. And for those others things that didn’t change much, we likely discovered that God changed us (for the better) in the process. In all instances, we were delivered–praise be to God alone!

So why do we fret over our current situations?

We will pray without ceasing, but let’s bless Him at all times knowing (because He has already proved it to us) that He is faithful in all things. We are confident, as the Apostle Paul wrote, that He who has begun a good work in us will be faithful to complete it until the day of our Lord! So [like David] we will bless Him at all times, we shall boast in Him and magnify Him for He is our deliverer, despite our circumstances. Considering all God has done, is doing, and will do for each of us, it is our reasonable sacrifice.

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24


 

These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Jamses 4:7b-8a

In November 2007, Tampa Bay Rays owner, Stuart Sternberg desiring to change the teams image dropped the word Devil from their name. One year later God (in my humble opinion) honors that decision and the ‘Rays’ go from worst to first in the American League East; losing to Phillie in the World Series was God’s way (perhaps) of keeping them humble.

Having said that, I believe the time is right for a major league name-change here too and propose that Jeffrey Vanderbeek, owner of the New Jersey Devils and current president and general manager, Lou Lamoriello drop the word Devils from their name.

A few years ago I recall being at the Meadowland’s Arena and cheering, “Go Devils, Go Devils!” I’m telling you I was convicted on the spot and left that game vowing to never utter that phrase again. I love a good hockey game, but I cannot with cleansed conscious root for the adversary, even if it is just a name.

Frankly, I don’t expect to gain much support, but that’s OK; I’m going to make the proposal anyway and pray for a good outcome: Let’s send a message to the NJ Devils to change their name. I further propose that our Christian radio stations (who have an obligation to report the sports and news) begin referring to the New Jersey Devils as “That hockey team from New Jersey” until a suitable replacement name is found.

What say you? Is this a case of legalism or doing what is pleasing to God?

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Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance…No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, Just as we hope in You. Psalm 33:12, 16-22

You know, I have sung the song, ‘My Country Tis of Thee’ a gazillion times, but I don’t think until today I fully understood (or appreciated) who the ‘Thee’ is. I mean obviously, the ‘Thee’ being referred to is God, but I don’t ever recall having thought about the true Focus of the song or the ideals it espoused as being equated to God. For years, I’m sad to say by rote I sang these words without giving them much consideration.

My Country tis of Thee

My country,’ tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing; land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside let freedom ring!

My native country, thee, land of the noble free, thy name I love; I love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills; my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.

Let music swell the breeze, and ring from all the trees sweet freedom’s song; let mortal tongues awake; let all that breathe partake; let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God, to thee, author of liberty, to thee we sing; long may our land be bright, with freedom’s holy light; protect us by thy might, great God, our King.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord

Depending upon which source you tap, a clear majority; roughly 76 percent of all Americans profess to be Christian. Therefore it would stand to reason that as a nation (whose majority is Christian), we could rightly proclaim that Jesus is Lord and that we are blessed because of it. Why then, I ask, is God’s sovereignty even an issue in these United States?

Well I submit to you that God is sovereign here (and elsewhere) whether there is 76 percent support or zero percent. What’s at issue is how blessed [as a nation] we truly are—as Christianity wanes, as the Gospel is diluted, and yes, as morals decline, so go our blessings. As a nation, we look around and are concerned, but it would seem we refuse to do anything about it. More precisely, we refuse to do what God would simply have us do.

What does God want us to do?

“Then it shall come to pass, (if) you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples… Deuteronomy 7:12-14a

God has given us the Law and further tells us if we adhere to the Law and follow its obvious course (which leads us directly to the Cross and Jesus Christ), we will be blessed. The Deuteronomy passage, by the way, is for all people, so it doesn’t matter if you live in a free American democracy or a brutal foreign dictatorship—the blessings are for all who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and obey.

“So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant–when you have eaten and are full–then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the Lord your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the Lord your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 6:10-15

We might debate to what degree, but there is no denying it—we are currently blessed. The danger (and the reason why our blessings are diminishing right before our eyes) is because across the board we have forgotten Who has provided our blessings. Generally speaking, we have taken everything for granted. To make matters worse, we have become a nation whose selfish one-word motto is, ‘Entitlement.’ As a result so many of us do not worship God any longer. We have become a country that idolizes the blessings rather then the Blesser and in our flesh we strive to obtain that which we don’t yet have.

Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 8:19-20

Finally, as a nation, we do not fear the Lord. Ask a Christian what the fear of the Lord means and you’ll likely receive a variety of answers. “Fear,” they might say, “means ‘respect’ or ‘awe,’ but it doesn’t mean we actually fear God.”

Really?

Read Deuteronomy 8:19-20 again and tell me honestly there isn’t something there we should fear.

I never feared by dad when I behaved, but I most certainly feared him when I had done something wrong. At that point, my fear had very little to do with respect and awe and a whole lot to do with dread. Did I still love my dad? Absolutely. The fear of my dad served to keep me in line; you could say it kept me blessed. The fear of the Lord also keeps me blessed, but in much more significant way.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14


These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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