His Keeping

Having spent many years in the construction industry, I have faced many very dangerous situations.  One thing I learned is the importance of safety equipment and procedures.  There is one piece of safety equipment that I am particularly fond of and that is the safety harness.  It is a piece of equipment that will keep you from falling even if you loose your grip or even consciousness.  It has one job and that is to restrain you from falling.  The reason that it is so effective is that it is strapped onto you and holds you within it’s confines.  You are dependent on it and it is not dependent on you.

Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

So many times I hear people ask the question, “How do I keep from falling away from God?”  A similar question is, “How do I keep from sinning?”  Another is, “How do I keep on the straight and narrow?”  These questions have some thing in common that reveal the real problem.  First, they all begin with the phrase, “How do I …?”  We humans like to be in control and think that our success is dependent upon us.  Though there are some things that we are responsible for,  our keeping is not one of them.  Your effort to deliver yourself is a waste of time.  Your holding on to God is as futile as willing the sun to not rise in the morning.  Try as you may, you just cannot do it.  It is a humbling thing to realize that you are totally dependent upon God to deliver you and to keep you from falling.  It is His hold on you and not your hold on Him that is certain.  Your grip can be broken, but not His.  You are as secure as God, Himself is secure.

But not only is His grip secure, but He is the one who will present you to the Father, faultless.   Did you get that?  He will not only get you there but will deliver you there without a fault.  If you need cleaning up, His blood washes as white as snow;  if you owe debts, He paid it all;  if you have bad language or bad thoughts, He gives you a new heart and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  You are His workmanship and God don’t make no junk.

It is not a burden to the Lord to make such an investment in you.  Our verse testifies that He does it with exceeding joy.     Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  He doesn’t hold back either.  He desires to give you the whole kingdom.   Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  All good and perfect gifts come from Him.  He loves doing for you because He loves you and values you above all of creation.

The keeping is His part, the believing and trusting is your part.  Just do your part.

When trials Come

It has been a few days since I last posted so I want to offer you an explanation.  My schedule ihas been quite full with the Senior Adult Bible Conference,just completed along with the upcoming events such as out of town guest coming, the visa application that I just got off on Saturday and a trip to North Carolina which I am currently at.  It is .5:05 AM on Tuesday.  The trip began on Sunday when we were scheduled to leave Dallas at 8:20 PM but never left until 9:00 PM.  The flight was good but there was a heavy thunderstorm when we got to Raleigh, NC and we had to circle for 45 minutes while waiting to find a time we could land.  Then after we landed we had to wait on the plane for another 45 minutes until  the lightening stopped so we could  d board and then wait some more for our luggage.  In short, we got to bed around 3:00 AM.  Then it was the day of figuring out how to tie in two roofs that were at odd angles to each other and at two different elevations.

Isn’t that just like life,  all our plans are frustrated and then we are pushed to our limits.  I am happy to report that we never let it control us so that we forgot who is in charge.  I am thinking of Jonah.  He was directed to go to Nineveh, but made plans to go the other direction and wound up in the belly of a whale for three days and nights.  Have you ever wondered what Jonah was thinking while he was there in the fish’s belly?  If he were in today’s world he might of thought, how did I get in such a mess.  There was no warning about the upcoming whether change that messed up the voyage.  Then there was that crew that tossed me into the sea.  You’d think they would have had more compassion for me and my needs.  And if that wasn’t enough, instead of my needs being met, I wound up being breakfast for this huge fish.  He must really be desperate, mixing me up with all of this sea weed.  You see, Jonah was thinking of himself instead of his responsibility and God’s plan.  Sometimes things go wrong because God is trying to turn us to the right direction.  That wasn’t the problem for us so why would it be so difficult.

Another reason that things can get messed up is that God is developing our faith.  That is an ongoing work of the Lord.  We need to know that no matter how impossible the circumstances become, our God is bigger than the problems are.  So much of the time, we slip into the thinking that this situation is too big for God.  We forget that He who made all that is, is the same one who reign over all that is and He has the power to change anything.  I am sure that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednrgo gained a new perspective about God’s power.  God is greater than the laws of nature.  When you are walking with Him, even the laws of nature must bow to His authority.

A third reason that things may not go as planned is that God is using you to illustrate to others who are watching, how a Christian should act under pressure.  Sometimes we do a good job and sometimes we don’t.  In this situation I am not sure why the situation was so difficult but I am seeing some things.  On the first day of our work here, I have been impressed at how God has guided each thing we have attempted.  It seems that the ability to see through the complexity of the situation has been over powered by God and we have been able to make the very difficult cuts that established the beams, on which everything sets.  This reminds me to make sure the foundation because the superstructure works right, only if the foundation is right.  By following God’s plan, I have always found that anything and everything that was needed, has been provided.  Even to the extent of adequate rest.  I am amazed how well I have made it without adequate rest.  Then last night I just ran out of energy and was in bed by 8:30 but then awoke this morning at 4:05, rested and ready for the day.  Now I have time to meet with the Lord and even write this blog.

To sum this up:  sometimes things get messed up to get us in line with the Lord; sometimes they  become difficult as God is working on us; and sometimes trials are ours so that God can use us.  Really it is not so important that we see the why, as much as it is that we simply trust Him and know that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted  to Him:  and that is me.

Summer Bible Conference Underway

We are now in our Senior Adult Summer Bible Conference which runs from yesterday through Wednesday.  Yesterday we had two speakers in the afternoon that both spoke on aging but from a totally different perspective.  Both were great and gave us several valuable insights.  One of the highlights for me was that it can be (and should be) one of the most productive times of our lives.  We have the opportunity to influence more people with more lasting insights than we have ever had the opportunity to do.  Today, Tomorrow and Wednesday we will have two speakers each day; the first speaking at 10:00 AM and the second will be speaking at 11:00 AM and repeating the times each day.

I will be speaking on Wednesday at the 10:00 AM slot.  My message is on John 6 where Jesus gave one of the great “I AM” teachings, I AM the Bread of Life.  All of the messages are being recorded and you can go to our Church’s web sight and listen to them at your convenience.  If You would like a copy of any or all of the messages (on a CD), drop me a note in the response box and I will try to get it to you.  If you live outside the US there will be shipping charges as I am not a business but an individual living on a fixed income.

Do you remember a blog that I wrote back in January about this blog being an ongoing adventure and that we would see the Lord in action, on our journey home.  Later I told you about my being asked about making the trip to China and later I shared with you that I was indeed going?  Yesterday, I found out that the entire trip is going to be paid for.  Since I am on a fixed income, and it was not part of my budget, it was going to take the Lord for it to happen.

The operation of faith is one of the strong point in chapter 4 of my book, The Mystery of Faith. Faith operates in the following manner: God initiates faith, then man believes, then God finishes it or brings it to pass.  Since God had initiated my making the trip to China, it was up to me to believe that He would provide what was needed to make the trip.  Since I then believed it was indeed God setting it up, I had compete trust in Him to bring it to pass.  This is how faith operates.  I did not go to God to make this happen, but He came to me with the request for me to go.  I wasn’t the one initiating the action, nor was I the one who initiated the request.  The request was the result of my response to God’s request for me to go.  He always finishes what He starts.  This is His chosen means of operation.  Until we get this operation down, we will continue to struggle with our faith and how God intends for us to walk.

Word Study – I AM

The first account that we have of God identifying Himself is in Exodus 3:14 where He answers Moses’ question of “Whom shall I say sent me?”  God’s response was, Exodus 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.  That answer sounds strange to us.  What kind of a name is I AM?  It doesn’t sound like a name but it does sound like a description which it really is.  God isn’t known by a name but by His attributes.  We use names to distinguish between others with the same attributes.  But there is no other with the same attributes as God.  There is none like Him so He is not identified by a name but by His attributes which there is none other like Him.

Choosing to identify Himself to Moses and the Hebrews, He basically said, ‘the one who is that has always been, and always will be the same is the one who is sending you.”  But it is even more clear when you realize that in all three tense, the same word for the self existent eternal God is only in the present tense.  In other words, there is no such thing as time ito God.  He is present in the past, present, as well as the future.  It is a hard concept to get your mind around but it does reveal a lot about The Eternal God who is unchanging.

This theme is picked up by Jesus in the Gospel Of John.  Jesus uses the phrase 23 times in reference to Himself being the self existing God by the use of the (ego eimi) I AM reference.  He also claimed to be the Messiah in John 4:26.  The Jews understood His claim in John 5:17-18 and in John 10:36 as a claim of deity in His declaration to be the Son of God.  In John 5:39 He stated that the scriptures testified of Him.  In John 10:30 He said He and His Father are one.  He further said that the Comforter (Holy Spirit) would testify of Him.  When He was arrested the soldiers went backwards and fell to the ground when He said I AM he.  Some of the more memorable descriptions include:

  • I AM the bread of Life
  • I AM the light of the world.
  • I AM the door of the sheep
  • I AM the good shepherd
  • I AM the resurrection and the life.
  • I AM the way, the truth, and the life
  • I AM the true vine

There is no misunderstanding who Jesus believed He is.  He made it clear that He is the Messiah, God in the flesh, God the Son.  The question that remains is do you believe it.  All of your eternity hangs on your answer.  He told Nicodemus, “You MUST be born again”  You will either become a witness of this truth or you will fight this truth.  Who do you say the son of man is?

 

 

Word Study – Eternal life

Have you ever considered what the phrase “Eternal Life” really means?  For years, I thought that it meant that when I became a christian that from that point on I would never die.  You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that was not exactly what it means.  The word “Eternal” literally means without end.  Think with me for a moment about my idea of eternal life. It begins with a point or end so if it has an end point then it is not eternal.  It does not mean only from now on but it also goes infinitely in every other direction as well.  Our finite minds have a great difficulty grasping the infinite.  We immediately begin to imposed our finite concepts into the equation and it changes the meaning.

We must consider the concept in light of the infinite God.  He never had a beginning and has no end.  He is inexhaustible in all things. Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  There is no knowledge that he does not have.  There is no power greater than His.  There is no place He is not present.  There is no life that does not come from Him, etc.  He is The Almighty God.  He is not like us finite, limited beings.  We think of Him as being like us but in reality we do not compare to Him.  Exodus 15:11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?  (This verse does not imply that there are other gods, but to the things we humans worship as a god.)  God is so great that nothing we can imagine is comparable to Him.

Have you considered that everything that Satan is can offer you is temporal, that is of this world and temporary.  That is because he is a created being and not on the same plane as God.  It is not the picture of two equals fighting to see who will win, but one of two choices for us to choose to follow.  Satan is not an equal to God and his end is certain.  God, on the other hand, is eternal or without end.  Because we cannot fathom the whole of God, we cannot fathom the extent of “Eternal Life”.  We trace our life as beginning at birth, but that was when we were formed, not created.  We were created before God created the world.  Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.  We were identified and detailed from the very beginning of the plan of creation.

Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: God elected those who made their choice of Him to be His children or offspring.

Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  

Our promise of eternal life goes far beyond our concepts of from now on to include from forever more to forever more.  We were God’s plan from the beginning and to accomplish that plan He created time and space.  We are not a product of creation but creation was established for us, like the womb is a place to develop our body before we begin our “life here on earth”  The difference is that the life God has for us is eternal.

This is possible because we are in Jesus who is eternal.  He exchanges his eternal righteous life for our temporal life of sin.  It is received by our believing (trusting, relying, obeying, following) Him through life.

What To Do?

Joh 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?   29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

This is a fairly common question, both in the Bible and in the world today? Here it is stated, ‘What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?’ and in Mark 10:17 and Luke 1025, 18:18 the rich young ruler asked “What must I do to inherit eternal life’?  What am I supposed to do?  What does God want from me?  This is how it sounds in modern day language.  Though it may be stated in many ways it remains the same question.  It is based on our merit system mentality of earning the reward by some act or benefit forfeited.

In our Scripture today we find Jesus stating the answer as clearly as anywhere else in the Bible.  It has been a favorite couple of verses to me for most of my Christian life.  The answer is direct and to the point.  The only requirement is to believe on Him whom He hath sent.  It requires not deeds or sacrifice since that was paid by Jesus when He gave His own life for our sins.  Payment was made in full.  To attempt to pay for it yourself is an insult to God and ultimately says “God, your work was insufficient.”  Who would intentionally say such a thing?  Yet, when we attempt to pay for our own sin, that is exactly what we are saying.

This also begs the question, What then does it mean , to believe on Him whom He hath sent?  In the original language of the Bible (Konia Greek)  the word believe and the word faith are exactly the same root word and can be substituted one for the other.  Scriptural believing then is the same thing as trusting, relying on, dependence upon, etc.  The work that God requires of us is not doing mighty things but totally relying on Him to do for us what is impossible for us to do, righteous living.  It is impossible for us because of our merit system mentality and we find it impossible to to think any other way until He reveals it to us.  Believing in Him is the sum and the jist of our works that please Him.  Notice in Romans 14:23b for whatsoever is not of faith is sin and again in Hebrews 11:6a  But without faith it is impossible to please him:  that all else  beyond faith or believing is not only distasteful and an insult, but frustrates the grace of God.

I have gotten over trying to work for God and now I long for God to work on and for me.  Just think about that for a minute.  Who is in trouble here, God or me?  God doesn’t need help, but I do.  Anything God wants done, He can easily do.  He isn’t focused on accomplishing deeds, but He is very focused in finishing me.  I am not saying that I only work for myself but that my deeds are the outworking of what God has placed within me.  Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  These are just two powerful verses that expand on this truth that God is infinitely more concerned with what we are than what we do.  He will do the works if we will do the work of believing.

Living by Faith

Everyone lives by faith all the time, but it is not the faith referenced in the Bible.  To understand this truth, you must understand what faith is and what the faith of the Bible is.  Faith simply means to trust or rely on.  When you sit in a chair you are exercising your faith in the chair.  When you take medicine, you are relying on the doctors and those making the medicine to prescribe the correct dosage.  When you drive a car your are relying on the car to perform a certain way and that the other drivers will observe the laws.  On an on it goes as we place our lives on the line because we trust in the objects of our faith.  This type of faith is in material living but it is not the faith intended in the Bible.  The Bible restricts our faith to the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is Spiritual in nature and is eternal in its scope.  The purpose of faith is not to provide some type of utopia for you but to direct you through this maze of traps and pitfalls we call life and to cooperate with the Lord in His transforming us into creatures of righteousness.  Because we are incapable of living righteously on our own because of our sin nature, the Lord has provided a way for us to live life on His level of righteousness and that is to obey the Holy Spirit.

It doesn’t take will power, it takes faith and obedience.  It doesn’t take strength, it takes weakness.  It doesn’t take works or deeds, it takes a reliance on God for what we cannot do. Faith in the Lord is an equal opportunity plan.  Everyone has the capacity to meet the demands of God through faith in Him, without adding any righteousness on our own.  It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, educated or not, with or without wealth, or any other such contrast.  The one thing that is required is that you are trusting the Lord and not anything other than the Lord.

So how do you know that the Lord is directing you.  First of all He has given us His Word, the Bible.  Whatever direction you have should be measured against what the Bible says.  That is the only 100% safe written word.  Secondly, what is the witness of the Holy Spirit within you?  You do not have the Holy Spirit within you until you are born again.  If you have never been saved then you do not have the witness of the Spirit to direct you.  That does not mean that He is not working for you, it just means that you do not have the spiritual sensitivity to know His leading.  Thirdly, (assuming you are a Christian) does the direction contradict spiritual principles established through the ages of the church and your Christian experiences?  Fourthly, does it edify others, yourself and your witness?  Fifthly, does it magnify and honor the Lord?

2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

Paul’s Prayer For The Church At Ephesus

Ephesians 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Eph 3:16 That he would grant you . . . That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;Eph 3:18 (That ye) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

The apostle Paul spent 3 years working with the church at Ephesus. Acts 20:31  Now, as he writes to them, he clearly lays out why he felt so deeply and earnestly for them and the extent of his prayer for them.  He is now looking to their journey ahead and what is yet needed.

First, he prays for them to be strengthened.  This strengthening was to be with might, that is, not just stronger, but to be the strongest they can be.  Strength come by exercise and sweat and by overcoming greater and greater trials.  This strengthening was to be with might, that is to the extreme; by His Spirit, that is supernaturally and finally, in the inner man, not physical strength but strength of character and will.

Secondly, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.  The term dwell has the idea of permanence and regularity.  It is not a mountain top high, but rather a constant dependence on Him.  The only way for that to happen is by faith in Him.  We should not expect feelings, sensations, etc. but by a continual trust in Him that He will do by His power.  It is not by seeing with our physical eyes but through the eyes of faith that we see the way.

Thirdly, he prays that they (you) may be able to comprehend what is the breadth, and length, and depth and height and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge and that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.  Wow! what a mouthful  of wonder.  Let’s break it down.  The word comprehend can also be translated ‘apprehend’, and it means to take possession of or to know experientially.  This is not head knowledge but knowledge that comes through experience.  Literally, to know God as He is, the immensity of His height (all that is above), and depth (all that is below), and breadth (all that is past and future) and length (all peoples of all races and all authorities).  All of this combined together and you will begin to grasp the Love of God and all He has planned for His Saints or believers.  Literally, to be filled with the fullness of God.

Paul closes the chapter by concluding that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we as or think, but it is according to the power that worketh in us, that God is glorified (seen) in the church.  This is normal Christian living.

Precious and Magnificent Promises

2 Peter 1:4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

If you read yesterday’s post of Great Expectations, you caught a glimpse of what God expects from us.  He doesn’t expect for us to succeed in our efforts to please Him because He knows that the old nature cannot please God.(Romans 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.)  It is God that enables us to live holy (separated) lives, but just to be able to do the right thing still comes short of God plan for our lives.  It is one thing to know what is right.  It is still another to do what is right.  It is still another to have your nature altered so that you do what is right naturally.  If it were possible to do what is right all the time, it would still leave you unprepared for eternity.

Doing what is right is great and I do not want to minimize it.  Being right is even better because it is not performance oriented.  When you nature is changed, doing what is right is what you do naturally and takes no effort at all because your sin nature is being put to death daily and you find less and less in common with it.  So how does this transformation take place?

Our scripture gives us the initial clue to how this takes place.  God gives us exceeding great and precious promises to use in this process of transformation.  It is by our standing on these promises and rejecting the old nature that we begin to take on the divine nature.  For example, after I accepted the Lord as my Savior, I noticed that I couldn’t hold the same views that I previously held.  I began to understand things in a different light and my attitude toward others began to change.

Here is a partial list of just some of the promises to get you started in claiming them for your own.

  1. Eternal Life
  2. Nothing shall be impossible with God
  3. God will NEVER leave you or forsake you
  4. Nothing shall ever separate you from the Love of God
  5. God Loves you
  6. God is for you
  7. All things work together for good, to them that are the called
  8. All the treasuries of God are available to you
  9. Forgiveness
  10. Grace
  11. Mercy
  12. Spiritual Gifts
  13. Love (agape)

God would have us to take on His characteristics (likeness and image and dominion) to enable us to interact with Him through out eternity.  We become partakers of His divine nature as we make these promises our own life.

 

First Visits

The women at the tomb

The first to visit the tomb on Easter Sunday morning was Mary Magdalene who came while it was still dark.  She found the stone rolled away from the tomb entrance and concluded that Jesus’ body had been moved so she ran to tell Peter and John.  She joined the other women when the sun was risen.  They came to anoint the body with spices but they were confronted with a shocking revelation from the angles that He had risen from the dead.  They went therefore to tell the disciples.

Peter and John

John was the first to arrive and look in to the tomb but waited outside for Peter to arrive.  When Peter arrived he immediately went in. (Note previous my blog on the grave clothes)  They were confronted with evidence that defied normal explanation.  John believed immediately and Peter left in wonderment.

Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus

Mary was so disturbed by not knowing where Jesus body was and her grief of her loss that she didn’t recognize Jesus and thought he was a gardener.  When Jesus spoke, she recognized Him and reached out to hold Him.  Jesus said don’t cling to me for I am not yet ascended to My Father.  He didn’t say don’t touch me but he used the word haptomai which means attach oneself to another or to cling.  She had lost Him once and she didn’t want to lose Him again.  Remember, Jesus told His disciples the it is expedient for you that I go away for if I go not away, the Holy Spirit would not come.  Jesus intended for us to know Him in another way by being indwelt with the Holy Spirit until we receive our resurrected bodies.   Having then been confronted with Christ Himself, she went again to tell the disciples with a new urgency in her report.

The Two On the Road to Emmaus

Emmaus was a town about 8 miles NE from Jerusalem and was located about 3,000 lower in elevation.  One of the two was Cleopas and the other is unnamed.  They were downtrodden and speculated about the events of the crucifixion as they walked.  Jesus, Himself joined them but was unrecognized.  He then engaged them in their conversation and they restated the events including the morning reports from the women.  Then Jesus chided them in being slow to believe and began at the prophets He interpreted the Scriptures concerning Himself. As they arrived at Emmaus they invited Jesus to stay with them since it was evening.  As they were eating Jesus broke the bread and gave it to them.  As they were confronted with the truth of who Jesus is, He vanished out of their site.

These are not the only sighting of Jesus but they are recorded for us so that we too can come to the truth of who Jesus is and that He is resurrected.  You have now been confronted with the truth.  What does it take to convince you HE IS ALIVE!!!