Archive for the ‘worship’ Category

You know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints–that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. 1 Corinthians 16:15-16

“They have ‘addicted’ themselves to the ministry,” is the Kings James rendering of this verse.

I like that.

Addiction is something I can relate to.  I excel at addiction.  When I was a cop, I was addicted to the job — I soaked it up like a Twinkie in milk. Simultaneously I was addicted to golf, playing an average of two to three times a week. And I’m sad to report there were other times in my life where my addictions were less respectable, involving drugs and alcohol and the like.

What about you? What are you addicted to?

The truth be told, we’re all addicted to something.

Swapping-out the word addiction, Bob Dylan, in prophetic manner, reminds us that we’re all going to serve somebody or something.

You may be an ambassador to England or France,
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance,
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls.

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.

What an astute analysis.  Chilling actually.

Whether he realized it or not, Dylan stumbled upon the notion that we have been programmed, in advance, to behave this way.  Is this truly the case?  If so, who is responsible?

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11


God has put eternity in our hearts.

But what is this thing eternity?

From the get-go we’re clueless, but instinctively we know that it’s something satisfying and like pigs after truffles, we’ve been wired to track it down.

Eternity is in effect the wellspring of our addiction. However, outside of God we wonder and wander aimlessly, only occasionally stumbling upon things that bring temporary satisfaction and relief.

Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” John 7:37

Seriously Jesus?  If anyone thirsts?  Dude (will all due respect), we ALL thirst.

Yes.  That’s the Point

Jesus would answer,

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst…the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:13-14

Eternity is satisfaction perfected.


Call it a God-sized hole, call it a thirst, call it an addiction; it matters not.  It is what it is.  All that remains is what are you going to do about it — with what or with whom will you fill the void?

Answer wisely.

The Problem With Philosophy

There is no problem with philosophy, unless of course you remove one of its components before you begin. That’s what secular philosophy has done — before commencing it proclaims, “We will accept all possible conclusions as long as one of them isn’t God.”  

That’s not philosophy, that’s stupidity.

Imagine a mathematician announcing,

I am about to undertake this incredibly difficult equation and I will accept any answer I come with, except of course the number seven.  I hate seven and I’m quite positive seven does not exist.”  

Insanity, right?

Once you’ve taken God out of the equation, you’ve lost all hope of arriving at the right answer.  A valid philosophy demands that all possible answers remain on the table, otherwise you spend your entire life trying to justify an error.

Case in point: evolution.  Identifying a deficiency (and while ignoring the obvious), theorists have conjured up a series of missing links, effectively replacing one void with several others.  That’s akin to filling a hole with another hole.

Excuse me, your emperor is naked.

Fear Not

Our natural reaction might be to reject rational thinking altogether.


Don’t fear philosophy, God doesn’t.  He knows that if someone is truly seeking the truth, to fill that void, to quench that thirst, they will ultimately arrive at the cross.

Check out this excerpt from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary on the word:

The objects of philosophy are to ascertain facts or truth, and the causes of things or their phenomena; to enlarge our views of God and his works, and to render our knowledge of both practically useful and subservient to human happiness. True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same principle.

I love it.

True religion and true philosophy must ultimately arrive at the same standard.  God!

Experience is the Best Teacher

Practically every testimony I have ever heard shares this common theme: “My (bad) experiences led me to Jesus.”  

In other words, every attempt to fill a void or satisfy a craving ultimately failed. Why?  Because their addictive search for the truth omitted God.  However it was the pain associated with their failures that compelled them to put all possible answers back on the table.

I submit to you that this is a work of the Holy Spirit.  This is conviction in its finest hour!

My friends, experience is the best teacher, but it doesn’t have to be your experience. Learn from the mistakes of others and go directly to the Fountainhead–go directly to the Source eternal.  If you haven’t experienced a peace that surpasses all understanding, you haven’t considered all the answers.

Consider Jesus

The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. Philippians 6:5b-8

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Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

My pastor calls it night watch; those times you can’t sleep because the Lord has some stuff He’d like you to do. Sometimes its prayer time; i.e., allowing the Father to bring to mind certain folks and situations, and other times its just classroom victuals. Last night it was a little of both. I was up so long last night I concluded I’d surely be exhausted come morning, but amazingly, I was up earlier than usual feeling completely rested. Was it all a dream? I assure you it was not.

Help Me to Remember

I must have said that fifty times as He spoke to my heart. Several times I wanted to get up and jot things down, but I determined I could not interrupt what the Father was doing. The difficulty for me this morning was twofold: trying to recall it all (so it might make sense to the reader) and omitting personalities so as to not adulate or vilify anyone.

The gist of His impartation centered upon the doctrine of reverence. What God pointed out to me is that I rarely revere Him. Oh, I say that I do, but my actions don’t always acquiesce with my claims. It’s not that my deeds are evil necessarily, but that they do not consistently reflect a reverent attitude towards God. In other words, if I truly feared God, would I be saying the things I say and doing the things I do? God is watching and He is listening and my tendency (frequently) is to behave as if He was my high school, stoner buddy rather then the Creator of the Universe.

How it Started

This exchange with God began as I recounted five individuals that I thought I needed to pray for and forgive. I thought I needed to forgive them because I thought that they had somehow wronged me. As I poured over each case before the Lord, He led me to recognize that my legal positions were flawed. It wasn’t that these folks were innocent of the charges I levied against them, but rather the evidence to support the allegations was circumstantial at best. Are they guilty? God didn’t say. He didn’t say because their guilt or innocence was not the issue; of issue was the ‘whole duty’ of a Christian man in the light of whatever his circumstances.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Romans 13:1

“Under the legal system I have placed you,” God was saying to me, “is not every man considered innocent until his guilt is proven?”


God was telling me that because I felt I had to forgive them I had already determined they were guilty of something. The reality is that in each situation the evidence did not support my accusation. “That,” He added, “is not a ‘God Revering Response.’”

It was beginning to come together. It’s not about how I’ve been responding to others, it’s about how I have been responding before You! So simple, yet it so profound—my response in any given situation is but an opportunity to revere God. It’s never been a matter of overlooking someone else’s behavior, but a matter of demonstrating godly reverent behavior at every chance I am given. If I fear Him, in the best biblical sense, my attitude, my actions, my responses will reflect that reverence. It’s my whole duty to God! I knew this already, didn’t I?

Understand how freeing this is. Judicial bondage must give way to mercy because mercy is the spiritual byproduct of reverence to God. We don’t revere God to obtain mercy, but nevertheless mercy is the result. And God is pleased.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy. Psalm 147:11

Charles Haddon Spurgeon summarized the verse this way:

“While the bodily powers give no content to God, spiritual qualities are his delight. He cares most for those emotions which centre in Himself: the fear which he approves is fear of Him, and the hope which He accepts is hope in His mercy. It is a striking thought that God should not only be at peace with some kinds of men, but even find a solace and a joy in their company. Oh! The matchless condescension of the Lord, that His greatness should take pleasure in the insignificant creatures of his hand. Who are these favoured men in whom Jehovah takes pleasure? Some of them are the least in His family, who have never risen beyond hoping and fearing. Others of them are more fully developed, but still they exhibit a blended character composed of fear and hope: they fear God with holy awe and filial (befitting of a son or daughter) reverence, and they also hope for forgiveness and blessedness because of the divine mercy. As a father takes pleasure in his own children, so doth the Lord solace himself in his own beloved ones, whose marks of new birth are fear and hope.”

This is going to sound incredibly obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway: any action that does not express reverence to God is irreverent and irreverence is always a sin. If I sense a need (for example) to forgive someone based solely on what I think to be true rather than the actual facts of the case, regardless if they are guilty or not, I am in sin. Keep in mind, forgiveness is merely the vehicle by which God brought me to this place. The issue is and always will be the whole duty of man as it pertains to revering God in everything we say or do. Do we fear God? Is our behavior an expression of that fear?

What’s your God revering response (GRR); what are some of the ways we routinely express irreverence?

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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.”


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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Do not take me away with the wicked And with the workers of iniquity, Who speak peace to their neighbors, But evil is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, And according to the wickedness of their endeavors; Give them according to the work of their hands; Render to them what they deserve. Because they do not regard the works of the Lord, Nor the operation of His hands, He shall destroy them And not build them up. Psalm 28:3-5

Non-believers often bemoan that the Old Testament is replete with cruelty and perhaps cite a verse such as, “O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed ; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones (Psalm 137:8-9).” Ouch—that is a little brutal, but they haven’t taken into account (either because they’re unconcerned or unaware), is that these tangible, Old Testament, adversarial pictures are symbolic of our shadowy, New Testament (and new covenant), spiritual enemies. Read the Psalm passage again, turn it inward; make it a prayer against the enemy within. The Apostle Paul would say…

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Our Father in His wisdom has allowed us to see in the Old Testament typology our enemy and how He faithfully deals with them. God has not changed, but He desires that we would curb our brutal ways. The Old Testament illustrations depict in great detail the manner by which our old man meted justice. God reminds us that we are to love these enemies because they aren’t the real problem; they’re but pawns being used by satan and his demonic forces.

The truth of the matter is that when we allow the Lord to search us, we discover that many of these adversarial traits reside within our own hearts. Perhaps you’ve heard it said that prayer changes us. That’s true, because when we pray; when we prayerfully participate in this spiritual battle field, our Father searches out the enemy in us as well as around us. With just a morsel of faith and by God’s power, we can deliver the enemy no matter where he hides. Consider anew this account from Jesus.

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:18-22

We see a similar (but different) account in Matthew 17 where Jesus included the phrase, “If you have faith as a mustard seed.” What we so often fail to see is the context in which Jesus was using this example. In Matthew 17 the enemy was a demon and in chapter 21 the enemy was fruitless-ness. Jesus had taken physical, external scenarios and, for the sake of changing His disciples, turned it inward and spiritual. In essence our Savior is saying that with the amount of faith we have been given, regardless of its size, we have the power to expel the enemy from within, despite the fact it might seem like a mountain-size problem to you. Is there evil in your heart? Is there fruitless-ness in your walk? Say to the mountain, ‘Be removed!’ and it will be done.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

God will never give you anything you can’t handle

That’s rubbish. Read 1 Corinthians 10:13 again and tell me Who makes the way of escape. That’s right, Jesus does. A proper interpretation of this verse would better read, “God will never give you anything He can’t handle…and He can handle everything.” By faith and His power we can move those evil and detestable things in our lives that seem like mountains and negate our enemies.

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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How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman? If even the moon does not shine, And the stars are not pure in His sight, How much less man, who is a maggot, And a son of man, who is a worm?” Job 25:4-6

These are the words of Job’s friend Bildad and they are a response to Job’s lament to go before the Lord and plead his case. Essentially Bildad is saying to Job, “Because all men are unrighteousness, they cannot stand before the throne of God.”

Theologically speaking, Bildad was right. And so were the psalmist and the prophet when they wrote, “The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one…we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…” (Psalm 14:2-3; Isaiah 64:6a)

But prophetically speaking, Bildad was wrong, for it is the believer’s good fortune to be clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ—those who believe by faith have access to God. What a glorious mystery it is!

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. Isaiah 61:10-11

There is however a predictive irony in Bildad’s reply; whether he realized it or not (probably not), he spoke prophetically of Christ Jesus. In the New Testament Jesus makes reference to Himself as the ‘Son of man’ over eighty times and He likens Himself to a worm one time in the Old Testament.

But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. Psalm 22:6

We collectively wonder, “Why would Jesus call Himself a worm?” The answer overwhelms us.

The word worm in Hebrew is towla and it is used to describe both a worm and the color scarlet. They are synonymous because the ‘towla worm’ was the source for the color scarlet; if you wanted scarlet material, you crushed some towlas in a bowl (I suppose) and tossed in the fabric you wanted to dye.

Henry Morris, in the book, “Biblical Basis for Modern Science”, give us this additional information on the towla: ‘When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood.’

Are you beginning to see the parallels between a worm and Jesus Christ? This next segment I borrowed from Calvin Ray Evans in an article he wrote for the ‘Insect man’ website. Savor and enjoy.

“First, the crimson worm climbs on the tree all by itself. Nobody forces it to get on the tree. It willingly searches out the kermes oak which is symbolic of its destiny. Then, by its own choice it climbs on the tree. Please understand that nobody forced Christ on the cross. What He did was of His own choice. He could have called all the angels of Heaven to release Him but He died alone for you and me.

The crimson worm knows when it climbs on the tree that it will not come back down alive. It is going to the tree to birth a family and to do that it must die. Jesus knowing all things still was willing to die on the cross to birth a family.

Once on the tree, the crimson worm then attaches itself to the tree. It makes sure it is secure because the body of the worm will eventually be the shelter for the young, which are born. Remember, it was not nails that held our Savior to the cross. It was love! That same love and broken body of our Lord is the protection for us against all the winds of heresy and unbelief of the ages. The worm will then lay its eggs and shelter them under her body.

During the birthing process, she secretes a crimson fluid or gel. The scarlet fluid covers her entire body and all the eggs she lays. It also leaves a stain on the tree, which will never fade away with the passing of time! (Please excuse me if I stop to shout right here! You may need to pause to join me too!) The blood of Jesus stained Him, the cross and all of us, which are saved! The blood will never lose its power!

After dying to birth the family, something amazing takes place. For a period of three days the worm can be scraped from the tree and the crimson gel can be used to make a dye. That dye was the same which was used in the tabernacle and in the garments of the High Priest.

On the morning of the fourth day, the worm has pulled the head and tail together and is now in the shape of a heart on the tree but it is no longer crimson. It is now a wax, which is white as snow. They can still harvest the wax and use it to make shellac, a preservative of wood. Praise God for the resurrection, which serves as the preservative of the message of the cross.

The crimson worm is also very fragrant when it is crushed. No other life in history has sweetened the pathway of humanity like the crimson worm who was crushed for our sin, Jesus.”

Here’s the bottom line. When Jesus referred to Himself as a worm, He was not coming down on Himself—the reference had doctrinal implications that would abide forever. The allusion was prophetic not poetic, it was momentous not insignificant; it was perfect and not irrelevant.

By the way…Happy Easter

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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But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me, And many such things are with Him. Therefore I am terrified at His presence; When I consider this, I am afraid of Him. For God made my heart weak, And the Almighty terrifies me; Because I was not cut off from the presence of darkness, And He did not hide deep darkness from my face. Job 23:13-17

Twenty-three chapters into the Book of Job and I am wondering why our main character hasn’t told his friends to take a hike. Chapter after chapter Job has endured a verbal mugging from his so-called friend’s and following each one, he rises up to defend himself. Why Job—why are you doing this? It would seem that Job wishes to be a defense attorney, arguing against their character and for his integrity.

Spinning His Wheels

As we read the account we might say, “Good for Job! He has the right to let these guys have it.” Job might have the right, but is he right?

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 1 Corinthians 10:23

Job’s difficulty (so far) is that he has failed to recognize that he is not an attorney, but he is the star witness! He doesn’t need to stand up and defend God, himself, or anyone else. Job has been empowered to take the stand to give testimony only. Jesus put it this way…

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

In his hardship, righteous Job had been given a choice. Up until this point he has chosen unwisely; Job is in fact spinning the wheels. What does that mean? It means he has taken the power he has been given and he isn’t going any where. Oh he’s making a lot of noise–revving engines and whirling tires sound cool, but he hasn’t budged one inch. Job has made quite the commotion, but only succeeded in leaving behind a black mark.

I don’t know about you, but this insight convicts me. For the past week or so I’ve been down in the dumps—nothing major, just the accumulation of a bunch of rubbish that finally wore me down. As I read through Job today I realized that I have been playing lawyer and in so doing I passed up numerous opportunities to glory God with my witness. God has been trying to say to me all week, “Dave, its okay that your down, but lift Me up.”

It doesn’t matter if I am oppressed or strengthened, up or down, rich or poor, in all cases I am neither an attorney for the defense or the prosecution—in every situation, I am the witness. And more then that, I am a star witness. That does not mean I am stellar; far from it, but rather that when I consider and subsequently relate all that Jesus Christ has done for me, He is glorified, honored, and praised…He is the Star!

Regardless of my state, if I do anything other than give God the glory, all I am doing is wasting the power God has blessed me with—I am spinning my wheels and probably leaving a black mark somewhere or on somebody. By way of His Holy Spirit, God has given His church power to magnify Him and to redirect that energy elsewhere is extravagantly wasteful.

Oh that this lesson would be impressed upon my heart forever.

“I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.” Job 23:12b

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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 sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart– These, O God, You will not despise. Psalms 51:17

God works within the realm of man’s impossibilities so that He will get all the glory, but don’t think for a moment that our Lord is a glory-monger. The reality is that God knows if we get any credit, any fame, any honor, others will tend to follow us and that in time we will stumble and consequently trip up our followers. In His holy simplicity our Father says, “Just follow me and there will be no mishaps.”

The story of Gideon exemplifies this principle. Gideon’s army is one-fourth the size of the enemies one hundred and thirty-five thousand. The Lord ultimately narrows the field to just three hundred until the Israelis are out numbered four hundred and fifty to one. Historically, it’s the not the first time drew upon this ratio; God’s prophet Elijah faced the same odds.

I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. 1 Kings 18:22

Back to Gideon

As directed by the Lord, Gideon gives these three hundred men a trumpet, a torch, and a jar, and says…

“Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do: When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets on every side of the whole camp, and say, ‘The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!’ ” So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just as they had posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers–they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing–and they cried, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” Judges 7:17-20

A Leader Leads

The Apostle Paul made a similar declaration when he proclaimed, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ,” in 1 Corinthians 11:1. The fact of the matter is true leaders lead by example and as directed by the Father through His Holy Spirit. But what I really like about this passage of scripture is the Biblical illustration it provides; a formula, if you will, regarding how a Christian dynamically lives out his or her faith. Believers can easily envelop themselves within the symbolism represented in the verse. Read the Judges passage again and consider these three New Testament references:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. 2 Corinthians 4:7; Psalms 51:17a; Matthew 5:16

We are these earthen vessels, being formed by God from the very dust of the earth, having His own breath blown into us. We have not formed ourselves, we have been formed as a jar upon the Potter’s wheel, only to be broken; born again as it were, so the Master’s light; our light that we willing have received, might shine forth into a darkened world. Humbly, we obediently submit ourselves to the process and in so doing are abundantly blessed. Is that your testimony?

No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. Luke 11:33

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Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Romans 14:1-3

Who Is My Weaker Brother?

My weaker brother is not necessarily who I thought it was. I was in fact surprised to discover that not infrequently this weaker brother is me! The person weak in faith that Paul is describing is not the one who lacks faith, but rather the one who errantly exercises the faith he has been given ~and~ attempts to impose their personal convictions on others. In today’s vernacular, we might call these folks legalists.

These guys (in Paul’s day) abstained from eating the meat being sold in the marketplace because it had been sacrificed to idols. They of course wanted to lay their vegetarian rap on everyone else because, they concluded, God would approve. The irony is that when a non-legalist is outwardly opposed to the yak of a legalist; to the point of controversy, the non-legalist is just as offensive as the legalist was initially. For this reason, God would say, “Let the brother be.”

Paul has effectively told us that God does not care about these matters. Christians are to accept each other and dismiss those matters that do not pertain to sin and the Biblical essentials of our faith. Whether it is the food or beverages we consume, the day we choose to worship, or any other inconsequential thing, tolerate your brother and avoid conflict. St Augustine summed it up pretty well when he said.

In Essentials,
In Non-essentials,
In All Things,

…For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Romans 14:17-18

It doesn’t get much clear than that. Is God interested in what we eat, what we drink, or when and where we worship? No, but obviously let us not sin in our liberty. What is God into? Righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Want to be acceptable to God and approved by men? Then let these three things be our focus in Christ’s Holy name.

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What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. Romans 4:1-4
If it’s True it’s Not New
Building on the divine standard pronounced in the previous chapter, the Apostle Paul brings us way back to the Old Testament to emphasize that justification by faith alone is nothing new. Using Abraham to demonstrate his point, the passage reveals that his righteousness was accredited to him based solely on his faith and not by his efforts. If Abraham did achieve righteousness by his works he could have sung his own praises, but that was not the case . Abraham was a saved-man before he set out from Ur and before he brought Isaac to the mountain sacrificially; he was saved when he simply believed the Lord and took Him at His word.

Now to him who works…wages are not counted as grace but as debt. Romans 4:4

Romans 4:4 is an incredibly significant doctrine and one that many born-again believers quickly forget. Many Christians comprehend that salvation is not something that can be earned and that it is a free gift from God that we receive by faith—at least initially. The mistake we often make is after we are saved; after we have freely received this gift of grace and buy into a false teaching.

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

God Owes Us Nothing

For whatever the reason, it is not unusual for the born again Christian to initiate works in order to earn God’s blessings. It’s often what’s being taught (the false prosperity gospel) and then erroneously enforced when we misinterpret the blessings the Lord bestows before, during, and after we work.

“I tithed, ” we might say, “and this is the reason God blessed me.”

That is wrong theology.

The Lord’s blessings do not cease or increase based upon any work we do. His blessings flow continually. Whether or not we are receiving them is based on positioning, not propositioning. We cannot approach our Lord and proclaim, “Ok Lord, I’ve prayed, I’ve fasted, I’ve poured through the Bible, and gone to church, now how are you going to bless me today?”

These are things that we get to do because it is our desire. If someone tells you that these are things you must do in order to gain or maintain your salvation, call him a liar and run away.

Just teasing.

Tell him the truth. Tell him that to assume God owes us anything is likely the most ridiculous concept we could harbor, for God is a debtor to no man. Any work we do should be a gracious response to what the Lord has done, is doing, and will continue to do regardless of our efforts. It is that faithful model that keeps us close to the spout where His blessings pour out.

He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, Scarcely shall they be sown, Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, When He will also blow on them, And they will wither, And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble. “To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord, And my just claim is passed over by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:23-28

  1. What do these passages say about God?
  2. What do they say about us?
  3. What should we consider doing?

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