Saturday, June 30, 2007

Walking Tabernacles

So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. (1 Chronicles 16:1)
The Ark of the Covenant was the sign of God’s presence among His people. Wherever it went, it brought blessing to those who honored it. But it also brought judgment on the enemies of God. When the Ark fell into the hands of the Philistines, they set it in the temple of Dagon, their own little god. They actually thought they had the God of Israel captured in a box and that, once in their possession, He would have to protect them. But God can never be held in a box, and the Ark merely symbolized the presence of His rule and reign. Since the Philistines had no respect for God Himself, the box did them no good. To their chagrin, they discovered that it brought only judgment upon them. They set it their temple, but the next morning they found the idol of Dagon had fallen over, its face to the ground before the Ark of God and its arms broken off. After seven months, the Philistines decided that it would be better for them to return the Ark to Israel (you can read the whole story 1 Samuel 4:1-7:2).

Unfortunately, the people of Israel had developed the same “God in the box” mentality themselves and had become quite fearful of the Ark. So they settled it in Kirjath Jearim, where it remained for twenty years. When David finally became king of Israel, he went and defeated the Philistines, then turned his attention to the Ark of God. After a false start, he finally led the Ark into Jerusalem, dancing before the Lord with all his might (2 Samuel 6). Then he established a place for it and erected a tabernacle. According to the literal meaning of the words, he “pitched” a “tent” over it. In this simple way, the presence of God was once again made manifest in Israel.

But that is the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, cut with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the people of God now have God Himself dwelling within. That which was only typified in the Old Testament tabernacle is now fulfilled in the Church. Paul said, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). We are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Himself as the cornerstone “in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21). Peter said, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Not only are we collectively the temple of God, but we are even so individually. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

We are living, breathing tabernacles walking around with the Ark of God — which is the Lord Jesus Christ — inside us. It is a blessing to all who are willing to receive Him, but also a judgment on every work that stands against the will of God. The book of Acts presents a very interesting example of this.
And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Acts 5:14-16)
Peter walked with a great awareness of this divine, powerful presence — the life of Jesus — dwelling within. As a result, he “cast a shadow” that released the judgment of God on sickness and brought healing to many. Because Jesus was on the inside, the power and blessing of God manifested on the outside as people laid hold of it by faith. He was a walking tabernacle.

If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, He dwells within you by the Holy Spirit. He is the Ark of God living inside you. The power to heal and to bless with he blessing of God is present within you, just as Jesus Himself healed and blessed in His earthly ministry two thousand years ago. You are a walking tabernacle of the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

(See also The Shadow of Glory)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Table of Provision

And Abraham called the name of the place, The LORD Will Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:14)
Abraham showed his faith and God stayed his hand from slaying his son Isaac as an offering to the Lord. But a sacrifice was now needed for the burnt offering. “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:13) So Abraham called that place “The LORD Will Provide,” because God had provided a ram for the need.

The Hebrew word for “provide” is yireh, but the root of that word is ra’ah, which means to see. God saw the need and made “provision” for it (you will notice that even our English word has reference to “vision”). A preacher explained it this way: God saw Abraham and Isaac coming up one side of the mountain, and knowing that there would be a need, He brought the ram up the other side of the mountain as a provision to meet that need.

There is a beautiful picture of redemption here. Just as Abraham would not withhold his son from God, God did not withhold His Son from us. And just as Isaac was redeemed by the ram that died in his place, that ram was a type, or foreshadow, of the One who came to die in our place, for our sins. God saw, from the beginning, that mankind would need a savior to deliver us from the terrible results of Adam’s rebellion, and He provided for that need by sending His own Son. That is why Jesus is called “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

God is the Provider. Jesus is the provision, and in Him we have everything we need. His Hebrew name is Yeshua, which means “salvation.” It includes forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with the Father, deliverance from danger, freedom from captivity, spiritual and physical healing, restoration, preservation and the provision for every need.

David declared, “O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup” (Psalm 16:5). Jesus is our portion, our provision, the One who fills our cup. And again, “I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:13). Jesus is the cup of our salvation—the Hebrew word for “salvation” here is yeshuah — and we can call upon Him to take care of us in every way.

This morning I took the Table of the Lord with this name in mind as I contemplated the bread and the cup: The LORD My Provider. I continually have needs, but God is continually my provider, and Jesus is continually my provision. As Paul said, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

The LORD Will Provide! He has seen our needs, and in Jesus Christ, He freely gives us all things. Lay hold of that provision at the Table of the Lord.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fulfilling the Law of God

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

Jesus said to him, “'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. (James 2:8)

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. (1 John 3:21-23)
If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have been born again by the Spirit of God, and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you. You are part of the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah:
“Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah — not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 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; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
This is a new and better covenant, established on better promises and mediated through the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:6; Mark 14:24).

If you know Jesus, you have that going on inside of you. That is why Paul said, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Instead, you will be fulfilling all the law of God. But it does require the Holy Spirit working in you:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14)
Love fulfills the law of God, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
The Lord Jesus declared, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). In Him, we have the new life of the Spirit, so that we can truly walk in love, and so fulfill the law of God.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Forcefully Laying Hold

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12)
The NIV has it this way: "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it."
  • It is like Jacob wrestling with the angel of the LORD: "I will not let You go until You bless me" (Genesis 32:26).
  • It is like the man who stumbled upon a rich treasure in a field, then he went and sold all that he had to buy that field, and so possess that treasure (Matthew 13:44).
  • It is a bulldog tenacity.
  • It is seeking first the kingdom of God and letting God take care of everything else.
  • It is asking until you receive, seeking until you find, and knocking until the door is opened unto you.
Years ago, Phil Driscoll had a song high on the Christian charts called “Comin’ On Strong.” I always think of that whenever I read Matthew 11:12. The kingdom of God is coming on strong, and those who are coming on strong in response to it are the ones who are laying hold of it.

Ever since the days of John the Baptist, the kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing, and tenacious men have indeed been laying hold of it. When we are fully focused on God's kingdom, we will see it manifest in a very powerful. But if we hold it lightly, we will hardly recognize it. How serious are you about it?

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Secret, the Bible, and the Answer

An unexpected best-seller has recently been making the rounds, promoted as the path to health, wealth and happiness. It is called The Secret and is a compilation, by Rhonda Byrne, of motivational thoughts of people from various walks of life. It is not a new teaching, but a recycled one, a distillation of the “New Thought” philosophy movement from the late 1800’s. Essentially, “the secret” is what is known as the “law of attraction,” that “like attracts like” and that we tend to attract to ourselves whatever we focus ourselves on. Focus on poverty and sickness, for example, and that is what you’ll end up with. Focus on wealth and health, and happiness, and they shall be yours.

There is an underlying value to the book that is true: The world was created to respond to us. The Bible teaches us that the world was framed by the Word of God (Hebrews 11:3), and we were created in the image of God, to be like God, and to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-28). Also, experiments in quantum physics demonstrate that the world does indeed respond to the very act of how we observe it.

What is left out, however, is the truth that sin has marred both mankind and the world. Remember that there were these two trees in the Garden of Eden: The Tree of Life, from which man could eat feely, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which was forbidden. Adam and Eve rebelled against God, ate from the forbidden tree, and disconnected from the life of God. The result is that the world was plunged under a curse. That is still the problem today.

The answer, however, is found in Jesus Christ, who sets us free from the penalty and power of sin. The apostle Paul tells us that all of creation is waiting for us to manifest this salvation:
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)
Just as the fall of man negatively affected creation, so the redemption of man also brings with it the restoration of creation.

But instead of eating from the Tree of Life and operating from the life of God, the life of the Spirit found in Jesus Christ, man keeps eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, trying to deal with good and evil apart from God. That is what The Secret ends up doing: It tries to deal with good and evil apart from the life of God and the power of the Holy Spirit — and that ultimately leads to death.

The Secret promotes positive thinking, which is not necessarily bad, just inadequate. Consider what Jesus had to say about changing the world:
So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11:22-24)
It begins with faith in God. It is not enough just to imagine mountains moving, or even to speak to them; we must also believe in our heart, and the faith by which we believe in our heart has everything to do with faith in God. Indeed, it is a faith that comes from God. The Bible says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

The Secret is not about the kind of faith that comes by hearing the Word of God, but merely about the power of human intention. Human intention can be very powerful, but when it is not directed by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, it can also be very destructive.

From a Christian point of view, the problem I have with The Secret is that it is not founded on the Word of God, by which the world itself was created, and by which faith comes. However, the current interest in The Secret gives us an opportunity similar to the one Paul had at Mars Hill. The Athenians had a temple to the “unknown God.” But Paul took that as an opportunity to tell them about this unknown God, and he preached Jesus to them (Acts 17:22-23).

Likewise, I do think that the people cited in The Secret have learned some things about how God's creation works, though they have missed some crucial aspects which are revealed to us in the Scriptures. But the things that they have learned presents a common ground for understanding, and a “Mars Hill” opportunity to bring the teaching of Scripture and especially the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Though man was created to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it, the likeness of God in us was marred by Adam's sin in the Garden. But Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, we have redemption, so that we may be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). In other words, what was lost in Adam is restored to us in Jesus Christ, and all creation is waiting for that to be revealed in the grown-up children of God (Romans 8:19-22).

THAT is the essential key, which The Secret lacks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2)
Here is the heart of God revealed in the prayer of the apostle John. God wants His people to be healthy, wealthy and wise.

HEALTHY. “I pray that you may … be in health.” Jesus came to remove our infirmities and bear our sicknesses (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:16-17), and by His stripes—the penalty He suffered in our place — we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24). He did that so that we could be in health.

WEALTHY. “I pray that you may prosper in all things.” To prosper is to do well, to have success in whatever you do. In Deuteronomy 28:8, God gives this promise to all those who walk in His ways:
The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
For those who delight in His ways and continually meditate on His Word, He says,
He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
(Psalm 1:3)
Prosperity and wealth are not just about finances and success in material things, but they are included.
WISE. “Just as your soul prospers.” This is the true measure of prosperity. You may have a lot of money, and success in many things, but if you miss it here, you have missed it all. Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). In God’s economy, as you prosper in your soul, that is how you will prosper in life.

In this letter, which the apostle John wrote to his disciple, Gaius, we see what soul prosperity looks like.
For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 3-4)
Did you spot the key? Prosperity of soul is about walking in truth; that is, walking in the ways of God. It is walking in the wisdom and revelation of the Holy Spirit, as Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit and wisdom of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17). Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

But John also speaks of another key in his letter.
Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. (3 John 5-6)
Prosperity of soul is about walking in love. Paul tells us that faith works “through love” (Galatians 5:6). Gaius believed the truth. He was “faithful” to it, or we might say that he was full of faith in it. Because he was full of faith in it, he lived it out, expressing it through love and hospitality. As John wrote in his first letter, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:1 8).

This may come as a surprise, but God wants you to be healthy, wealth and wise; to walk in His ways, be set free by His truth and experience the flow of His love filling you up and blessing others. That’s why Jesus came.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Core Strength

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)
This morning at our Tuesday a.m. Bible study, we were discussing Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” We were considering how we do this “by the Spirit.” One of the men shared something his personal fitness trainer told him about “core strength.”

Core strength is the strength of the muscles in your torso, which give stability and support to your spine, and the regions of your pelvis and your shoulders. Good core strength enables you to generate powerful movement of your arms and legs. My friend’s trainer related to him the power and importance of developing and using this core strength.

As he was telling us this, my mind went immediately to what Jesus said in John 7:38, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John notes in verse 39 that Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit.

“Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” The KJV says, “Out of his belly.” The Greek word refers literally to the abdomen, in the core of the body. Used figuratively, it speaks of the heart, the core of one’s being. Whoever believes in Jesus, out of the core of his being will flow rivers of living water.

“Rivers of living water” speaks of a powerful abundance. It is not a trickling stream or a gently babbling brook. No, think of the mighty Mississippi River and you will have a much better idea of what this is talking about. The mighty waters that issue forth from the core of those who know the Lord Jesus is the power and manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

That is what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)
Think of it — the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead now dwells in all those who have been born again through Christ. That same power is now at work in us, in our spirits and our bodies, to bring about the will of God. This is the power Paul was talking about when he spoke of “Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,” and adds the startling revelation that God does this “according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20). That is, the power by which God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think actually dwells within us. It is the power of the Holy Spirit flowing forth from our innermost being to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the works of Jesus (John 14:12). It is the power that destroys the works of the devil and the misdeeds of the flesh. It is the power to live a life that is pleasing to God. That is core strength.

Our part, then, is simply to yield to the Spirit of God and let Him lead us. That is how we come into spiritual maturity. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14).

Spiritual maturity in the Christian life is never about trying to do anything in our own strength, but by surrendering to the Holy Spirit and relying on Him as our core strength, and He will give powerful movement to everything we do.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Man ~ the Image of God

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image.” (Genesis 1:26)
Been studying a little bit about “image” in the Bible. Man was created originally to be in the image of God. In the Septuagint (aka. the LXX), the early Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, the word used for “image” is eikona ("icon").

In the New Testament, Paul tells us that Christ is the “image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Jesus could well say, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9), for He bore the Father's image. This, of course, is not about physical resemblance, but about the resemblance of essence or nature. The characteristics of the Father are the characteristics of the Son, and vice versa. The Greek word for “image” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Colossians 1:15 is the same one used in the Septuagint in Genesis 1:26: eikon.

Now consider Romans 8:29 in the light of that:
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
God's purpose for us is that we be conformed to the image of Christ. The Greek word for “image” in this verse is, once again, eikon.

Now, if Christ is the image of God (that is, the likeness of His nature and character), and we are conformed to the image of Christ (the likeness of His nature and character), then what does that say about us in relationship to God? That those we receive the Lord Jesus Christ are conformed to the likeness of the nature and character of God. Well did Peter say that we are meant to be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

But this does not mean that we are like God in the exact same way that Jesus is. For Jesus is God Almighty, in and of Himself, who exists without beginning and without end. On the other hand, you and I are created beings. Jesus is God in the absolute sense, but we experience the divine nature in a derivative way — that is, the divine nature we possess is that which we receive from God.

From beginning to end, Scripture speaks about God's purpose for us to live as divine beings. Even Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” shows that man was created to dwell in the glory of God. Adam blew it when he sinned in the Garden, rebelling against God and disconnecting himself from the source of divine life, but in Jesus Christ we are restored to proper relationship with God, so that we may once again partake of the divine nature.

God created you and me to be His image on the earth. Adam blew it, but Jesus renewed it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Divine Beings

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
The amazing truth about mankind is that, from the very beginning, we were created as divine beings — to be like God. That is what the Scripture means which it says, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” That is such a mind-blower that even many Christians have a difficult time believing what it says. But we see this truth consistently through the Bible.

In Psalm 82:1, for example, we see calling together the judges of the earth to rebuke them for failing so miserably in their duties. “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods.” The Hebrew word for “gods” is elohim, usually translated as a reference to God Himself. But from the context, we see that it is here talking about men, calling them “gods.”We see it again in verse 6: “I said, ‘You are gods,’ and all of you are children of the Most High.”

Was that a slip-up on the part of the psalm writer? Maybe some sort of typographical error? No, not at all. Writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the psalmist really meant to refer to them as gods. These were human beings whom God expected to operate in a divine capacity, but He would not have done so had He not created man to be like Him.

The Lord Jesus references this passage in John 10:34-36:
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”
Jesus did not dispute this verse, or the fact that God spoke to men and said, “You are gods.” Rather, He confirmed it! He used it as a point to talk about His own divinity: If God said to men, “You are gods,” then why should the Jewish leaders get so bent when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God?

Now, we understand from other Scriptures that Jesus is uniquely the Son of God, that is, in such a way that is not true of anyone else (see John 3:16, for example). That is because He is the eternal Word of God who took on human flesh (John 1:1-18). Jesus is God in human flesh, and He did not think it took anything away from Him for men to be called “gods.” He was not offended by it one bit; He affirmed it.

God created man to be like Himself, a divine class of being. But where God is infinite in all His divine attributes, man finite in his god-likeness. God exists of Himself, but man is completely dependent upon God for his existence. God’s divinity is absolute; man’s divinity is derivative from God.

From Genesis 3, we know that Adam rebelled against God, believing the promise of the devil that he could be a god apart from Almighty God. But in that day, man died, having disconnected himself from the very source of his divine existence. That is why Jesus came, to destroy the works of the devil and reconcile man back to the Father. His redemptive work makes it possible for us to take up, once again, the divine nature God intended us to have from the beginning.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4)
To those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ, the divine power of God has restored everything required for life and god-likeness, so that we might be “partakers of the divine nature.”

Throughout the New Testament, those who receive Jesus are called “sons of God,” and “children of God.” “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). “Beloved, now we are children of God” (1 John 3:2). “For as many as are lead by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14).

What does it mean to be “children of God” and to partake of the divine nature? It is the law of reproduction:
  • A dog has puppies. The puppies partake of the canine nature of the parents. They are a canine class of being.
  • A sheep has lambs. The lambs partake of the ovine nature of the parents. They are an ovine class of being.
  • A pig has piglets. The piglets partake of the porcine nature of the parents. They are a porcine class of being.
  • A bear has cubs. The cubs partake of the ursine nature of the parents. They are an ursine class of being.
All this is how God planned it from the beginning — everything reproduces after its kind. That means that a dog does not have pups that are not canines, and a cat does not have kittens that are not felines.

What does it means, then, that we are called “sons of God,” and “children of God?” It means that we are beings like Him, we partake of His divine nature. We are a divine class of being — created by God to be so; redeemed by Jesus Christ to be so.

Why is this important? Because it is who we are in Jesus Christ. Not only that, but all of creation is waiting for us to get this revelation. For when Adam sinned, he brought the world under a curse. But in Jesus Christ, we have redemption, not only for ourselves, but for the creation as well.
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:19-22)
You and I were created as diving beings. Though we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), the Lord Jesus has come to reconnect us to Father God, so that we may once again partake of the divine nature, to fellowship with God and do His will upon the earth. All of creation is waiting for you and me to get this revelation so that it, too, can be redeemed.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Having Satisfaction in the Household of God

We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house. (Psalm 65:4)
God is good. Everything He does is good. Everything He gives is good. Every good thing comes from Him. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, which whom there is no shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Good He is; good He shall ever be.

God does not withhold any of His goodness from His people. “The LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). He “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). He is the God who “satisfies your mouth [your desires] with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:5).

What complete and utter satisfaction we have in God. He fills us to the brim, and then He makes our cup overflow.
How precious is your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
(Psalm 36:7-8)
Drink deeply of the goodness of God. Everything you’ll ever need can be found in Him in abundance and He offers it to you freely in Jesus Christ. Dive into the river of His pleasures until you are thoroughly satisfied in His love.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Help! Quickly!

Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
Make haste to help me, O LORD!
(Psalm 70:1)
Years ago I went on retreat with a group of Presbyterian men to a Trappist house in Conyers, GA, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. The times of prayer we experienced there often began with this verse: “O God, come to my assistance; O LORD, make haste to help me.” Prayer and worship is the work of God and, therefore, requires His assistance. So that is what the monks asked for as they launched into the work.

This afternoon I was reminding God about the truck my son-in-law needs for his carpentry business. He wants a Ford F-150, and my wife and I have been believing God to supply him with a real honey of a truck — late model, low mileage, nice paint job in a color Matt likes, reliable, good on gas, air conditioner that blows cold, and a sweet sound system. His present vehicle is an old Jeep Cherokee that has more than seen its day. I could tell you what it needs, but it would be faster to tell you what it doesn’t need, which is next to nothing. Sometimes my daughter has to drive it, and that really motivates me, as a father, to keep this request before the Lord.

Anyway, as I was praying, this verse came to mind: “Make haste to help, O Lord.” Because sometimes we don’t just need help — we need it FAST! So I found myself saying, “Lord, bring that truck QUICKLY!”

David found himself in scrapes, more than once, when He needed God to act and to act quickly, because adversity was quickly closing in on him. As he lines out his request in this psalm, he is at same time declaring his trust and the glory of God. Recognizing how helpless he is without God, he ends his prayer
But I am poor and needy;
Make haste to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay. (v. 5)
The Message Bible puts it this way (although I think it could probably use a few more exclamation points:
But I've lost it. I'm wasted.
God — quickly, quickly!
Quick to my side, quick to my rescue!
GOD, don't lose a minute.
Some things can’t wait, and its okay to remind the Lord about it, even very emphatically. But never fear, and remember that He is also the Lord over time.

The Table of His Faithfulness

Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. (Psalm 37:3)
Dwelling and feeding — they go together. Many people do not take the time to dwell, so they miss out on the feeding. We live in a fast-food nation, and many Christians are looking for a “microwavable spirituality,” something they can heat up in a minute or two. We need more of a “Paris” mentality, because the French know something about taking the time to really enjoy a meal.

We need to learn how to take time for our relationship with God. That is the real value of spiritual disciplines. If they are nothing more than items to check off our list of “spiritual activities” then they are pretty worthless. Their real value lies in helping us to make room to be with God, to hear Him and fellowship with Him. When we learn to do that, it will not be like “popping in” for a visit. We will find that, when we have to turn our attention to other matters, we will still be dwelling with Him, for we will be more aware of His presence at every moment of life. We will be feeding on His faithfulness.

Various translations of this phrase, “feed on His faithfulness,” include:
  • “Enjoy faithfulness.” (Young’s Literal Translation)
  • “Cherish faithfulness.” (Jewish Publication Society)
  • Befriend faithfulness.” (English Standard Version)
The Hebrew verb those words render actually has to do with shepherding. It is the word ra’ah, which means to pasture, graze, feed, or tend. We “feed” on His faithfulness, for He is a faithful shepherd, as we see in the Psalm 23, the “Shepherd Psalm.”

At the Table of the Lord, we see Jesus, the Good Shepherd who “gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). He Himself is the door for the sheep, who guards the fold and keeps out intruders. He watches over the sheep in their coming and going.
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9)
The NIV renders Psalm 37:3, “Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” Our Shepherd is always there, guiding and providing for us. He who laid down His life for us — is there anything He will withhold from us?
Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep … My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. (John 10:7-15, 27-29)
The Table of the Lord is a wonderful place to feed on the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. Come to this table often to luxuriate in His love and soak in His presence. Then as you go, you will know that He is with you always in all the paths you must travel.

Romans 8:31-39 is another great passage to feed on concerning His faithfulness toward all those who trust in Him.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Under the Wings of Mercy

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust
  under the shadow of Your wings.
(Psalm 36:7)
The Hebrew word for “lovingkindness” is chesed. It is the covenant love and mercy of God by which He promises to be kind to all who come to Him. And it is wonderful! The New King James and other versions translate the Hebrew word yaqar as “precious.” The King James Version calls it “excellent.” The Message Bible uses “exquisite.” Brown-Driver-Briggs defines it as “valuable, prized, weighty, precious, rare, splendid.” It is a word used of precious stones or jewels.

The lovingkindness of God is beyond compare. No wonder, then, that the children of men take refuge under the shadow of His wings. The word for “wings,” kanaph, comes from a Hebrew root that refers to being hidden away from view in a corner. To hide under the wings of something means to come up under the edges. The wings of a bird provide a good analogy: Picture a mother hen gathering her chicks up under her wings.

In the Old Testament, Hebrew men were to makes tassels on the corners of the their garments, each one containing a ribbon blue, which symbolized divine authority (Numbers 15:37-38). The Hebrew word for these corners was kanaph. Now, remember the woman with the “issue of blood,” who came up behind Jesus to touch the “hem” or “border” of His garment (Luke 8:43-44). This “hem” or “border” was the tassel of His prayer shawl.

This woman was desperate! She had lived with this condition for twelve years, finding no relief, even though she spent all she had on doctors. What is more, it rendered her ceremonially unclean. She could have been stoned to death for coming out in public and touching anyone. But she came up behind Jesus anyway, repeating to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well” (Matthew 9:21).

In the eyes of the world she was taking a huge risk. But she was a woman of great faith. Perhaps she had remembered Psalm 36:7, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”

And now, here was Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Healer, Jesus the Son of God, walking in her midst, and the shadow of His kanaph, His “corners,” His “wings” was so very close. And she so desperately needed the lovingkindness and tender mercies of God to be poured out upon her — she went for it with determined faith. She reached out — and she was immediately healed!

Jesus wheeled around. “Who touched Me?” He said, but He was not angry. Instead, He was impressed, because that touch drew out His power. “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” When the woman revealed herself, He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48).

There is nothing greater in this world than the lovingkindness of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He has promised His great love and mercy to all those who trust in Him, and there is no kindness He will not show to those who do. How precious it is to live under the shadow of His wings.

(See also Healing in His Corners.)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The LORD God of Truth

Into your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O LORD God of Truth.
(Psalm 31:5)
David experienced Yahweh as the “God of Truth.” The Hebrew word for “truth” is emeth, and refers to the firmness, sureness, certainty, reliability, stability, faithfulness, truthfulness or trustworthiness of a thing. It comes from the root word aman, which means to build up, support, and be firm. It speaks of permanence and a sure foundation, of pillars that can carry the load.

You might recognize the Aramaic cousin of aman, a word that Jesus used often, the word “amen.” It is translated in many versions as “truly,” or “assuredly.” Whenever Jesus began with “Amen, amen,” or “Truly, truly,” He was being most emphatic about the truth of what followed. Today we might say, “You can take that to the bank!”

This is the kind of God we serve, the God of Truth. Everything He says is utterly trustworthy. His words give stability. Indeed, the worlds were created, and are sustained, by His words (Hebrews 11:3; 1:3). They are a firm foundation.

So how did David come to this powerful revelation? It was not an idle speculation or untested theory. No, it was something he experienced time and again, going back to his days as a young shepherd boy:
David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard and struck and killed it.” (1 Samuel 17:34-35)
David’s trust in God’s faithfulness was the basis for his most famous exploit:
“Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the Living God.” Moreover David said, “The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:36-37)
In Psalm 31, David was once again in a scrape. Not only was the enemy pressing in hard, but even his neighbors and acquaintances were deserting him. There were a lot of people out to kill him, and none to help.

But David committed himself to the Lord. He cast his burden, his life — his whole being — over onto the God of Truth, the Faithful One. This was no piecemeal negotiation (“I’ll do this if You do that”) but a wholesale commitment, totally entrusting himself into the faithful hands of God. He had no backup plan. He didn’t need one; he knew that God would not let him down.

David committed himself to God in the direst of circumstances, and the Lord redeemed him, ransomed him, rescued him, delivered him, preserved him, just as He had done so many times before.

You can always commit yourself into the hands of God with full confidence. He will never let you down, for He is the LORD, God of Truth.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Faith is Knowing That God Will

Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.
~ Ben Stein

You might recognize Ben Stein from numerous Visine commercials. Or perhaps you remember him as a teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (“Anyone? Anyone?”) or his roles in a number of other movies. He is an economist by training, the author of a few books and a syndicated column. He is also a staunch pro-life advocate. But his chief goal is to be a good husband, father and son.

He is also a man of faith, and he understands something about the dynamic of faith that many religious people just don’t get. Faith is not about acknowledging the possibilities of what God can do. Many people understand that God can do the impossible. But faith, the Bible kind of faith, is believing not only what God can do, but what God will do.

Many Christians shrug and say, “Well, you never know what God is gonna do.” Apparently, they do not pay much attention when they read their Bibles, because if they did, they would indeed know what God is going to do, because He reveals His will many times concerning a variety of situations. The Word may not tell us precisely how or exactly when He is going to do certain things, but it does reveal that He is going to do them.

For example, concerning sickness and disease, God reveals that Jesus has already taken these things upon Himself, and that whoever comes to Him in faith will be healed (I’ve written a book about that called Healing Scriptures and Prayers). Concerning lack, He has revealed that He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Concerning the many troubles that the righteous may experience, He has revealed that He will deliver us out of them all.

Faith is not only believing that God can, it is knowing that He will.

What is the level of your faith? It is good to believe that God can do these things for you, but it is a breakthrough when you know that God will do them for you. That is when mountains move.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

That's MY King!


Do you know Him?

If you have never received the Lord Jesus Christ, but would like to, The Most Important Prayer will show you how.