Sunday, December 31, 2006

Framing Your World: Your Heart

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. (Matthew 12:34-35)
The worlds were framed by words — the Word of God (Hebrews 11:3). Jesus said that it will respond even to the words of your mouth, if you have faith in God and believe in your heart the words you speak with your lips (Mark 11:23). In other words, if your faith is in God, you have the ability to frame your world (the realm of your existence and the sphere of your influence).

Now, there is an important connection between your mouth and your heart. The effectiveness of your words is dynamically related to what is going on in your heart. As Jesus said, it is out of the abundance, or the overflow, of the heart that the mouth speaks. If you want to know what is going on in a person’s heart, listen to his mouth for a while.

Proverbs says that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). The context is of a man who is pretending one thing with his words, but his real character and purpose are determined by his heart. And what is in his heart in abundance will soon give him away by his words as well as his deeds.

But here’s what I want you to notice: “As he thinks in his heart, so he is.” The Hebrew word for “think” means to reason out or calculate, but it comes from a root that means “to act as a gatekeeper.” Each of us acts as a gatekeeper, deciding what we will let into our heart and what we will keep out. Whatever you let into your heart in abundance will determine the kind of person you really are.

For some little biblical direction about what to fill your heart with, regular meditation in the book of Proverbs will bring you into much wisdom. Consider also Psalm 1:1-3; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:1-2.

Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.” Your are the one who determines what kind of treasure will fill your heart. Out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth will speak, and so shall you frame your world.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Framing Your World: Your Mouth

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
(Proverbs 18:21)
The worlds — the heavens and the earth — are framed by the Word of God (Hebrews 11:3). Your world — the realm of your existence and the sphere of your influence — is framed by your words. God created you with that capacity. He created you and me in His likeness, that is, to be like Him. He breathed His breath into us and made us “speaking spirits.”

Just as God ordered the worlds by His words, you also have the authority to bring the world into the order of God by your words. You also have the ability to bring things into disorder by your words.

The Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. That is, your words can be death-dealing or life-giving. They are both under the direction of whatever you say.

“Those who love it will eat its fruit.” Every word you speak is a seed that will bring forth fruit and come back to you, and you will have to eat that fruit. The verse previous to this says, “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled” (Proverbs 18:20). As someone else wisely counseled, “Be careful of the words you speak today, for you will have to eat them tomorrow.”

Do you like to babble? You will eat the worthless fruit of idle chatter. Do you indulge in gossip? Destructive rumors will come back on you, and leave a bitter taste in your mouth. If your words are filled with fear and darkness, that is what will follow you wherever you go. Some people go around damning this and damning that, and then wonder why things are not going well for them. Go figure.

On the other hand, if you respect the power of your words enough to carefully guard what you say, you will enjoy of pleasant harvest. For as you speak, so shall you eat. If you speak faith-filled words, you will bring forth a faith-filled harvest. Sow words that offer life and light and blessing to the world around you, then stand back and watch as life and light and blessing comes multiplied back to you in rich harvest.

Think back. What were the words you spoke yesterday? What is the harvest you are reaping today? Now think forward. What is the harvest you want for tomorrow? So what are the words you will speak today?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Framing Your World: The Word of God

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)
The Bible says that the worlds were framed by words, more specifically, by the Word of God. The Greek word for “frame” means to render, fit together, equip, arrange, adjust, put in order, perfect, complete thoroughly. The worlds — the heavens and the earth — were put in order and brought to completion through the command of God. The word for “word” here is rhema and refers to the acutely articulated and precisely particularized word spoken by God. For example, when darkness covered the face of the deep, God said, “Light, be!” and there was light (Genesis 1:3). His rhema brought the darkness into order by establishing light.

Because the world was created and framed by the spoken word, it also responds to the spoken word. For example, Jesus rebuked the fever in Peter’s mother-in-law and commanded the wind and the waves. He also taught His disciples about the power of their words:
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. (Mark 11:22-23)
The key, of course, is faith in God. Rendered literally, the Greek text has “faith of God.” That is, the God-kind of faith, or the kind of faith that comes from God. The Bible in Basic English translates it as “Have God’s faith.” The faith that comes from God comes by hearing the Word of God. Paul said, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word [rhema] of God” (Romans 10:17). When we have the faith that comes from God, and we believe in our heart, then the words we speak with our mouth will be done.

That is how God made us to function. He created man in His image and likeness, that is, to be like Him. When he form Adam from the dust of the ground, He puffed His breath into Adam’s nostrils, and Adam became a “living being” (Genesis 2:7), or as ancient an Jewish commentary put it, a “speaking spirit.”

God created us to speak, and He gave us the mandate to subdue the earth and bring it into divine order (Genesis 1:28). The first assignment He gave Adam was to name the animals, that is, to bring them into divine order by the words with which he would call them (Genesis 2:19). God created the animals, but by naming and calling them, Adam determined what they were going to be about. By words, he established their purpose and destiny within the plan of God. To put it another way, Adam framed his world — the realm of his existence and the sphere of his influence — by the words of his mouth.

Of course, we know that Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden of Eden, and by their disobedience disconnected from the life of God. From that day on, man began calling forth all sorts of things that God never intended to be upon the earth, framing the world by faithless, fearful words. But that is why Jesus came, to deliver us from the curse. Even in the Old Testament, God promised that a Redeemer would come, a Messiah who would rule and reign and restore the order of God’s kingdom on earth.

We are now living in that time. When the Lord Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago, He sacrificed Himself for our sins, then was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit and seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Ephesians 1:19-23).

Because of Jesus the Messiah, we can now speak words of faith, words that come from God’s own mouth. We can frame our world through rhema words and bring it into the order God in which God intended us to live.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Dreams: Return to Israel

Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” (Matthew 2:19-20)
In the previous dream, which directed Joseph to take the baby Jesus and His mother and flee to Egypt, there was the promise of a new word that would come. That angel said, “Stay there until I bring you word, for Herod will see the young Child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:13). And now here was that new word: “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.”

The threat had passed, and the promise of the first dream remained: “You shall call His name JESUS, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). God had showed Himself faithful to His Word. And He would continue to do so, even as another threat emerged:
Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. (Matthew 2:21-22)
When Herod died, he divided his kingdom among his three remaining sons (the ones he did not already have killed). To the cruelest one, Archelaus, he gave the region of Judea, subject to the approval of Rome. Galilee came under the rule of Herod Antipas, who was much less vicious than his brother.

So Joseph brought Jesus and Mary back to Israel, but not to Judea, which he had originally anticipated. Archelaus posed a new threat, and God was faithful to advise Joseph about it. Joseph and his family returned to Israel, but settled in the region of Galilee and a place called Nazareth.
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:23)
There is no one prophet who makes such a statement in the Old Testament. Matthew is gathering together a few prophetic ideas and bringing them to a conclusion. One such prophetic text might be Isaiah 11:1, which tells of a “branch” (Hebrew netzer) which would grow out from the roots of Jesse (father of King David). This would be a play on words between the Hebrew netzer and the name of the town Nazareth.

It may also have to do with the sullied reputation Nazareth had developed. In the Gospel of John, when Phillip went to his friend, Nathanael, and said, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph,” Nathanael answered, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:45-46). This would go along with Isaiah’s prophecy that Messiah would be despised and rejected:
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
  And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
  And when we see Him,
There is not beauty that we should desire Him.
   He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
  And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
(Isaiah 53:2-3)
But none of these things mattered. They could not stop the angelic dream. They could not undo the plan of God and destroy His promise: The little Child named Jesus would grow up and save His people from their sins!

When God gives a dream, the enemy will try every way he can to stop it. But if we will hold onto God and His Word, and always be listening for His voice, He will bring us through to the place of fulfillment.

Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

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

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas Dreams: Arise, Flee to Egypt

Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” (Matthew 2:13)
What? Flee to Egypt? How can this be? Was not that which was conceived in Mary indeed of the Holy Spirit? Was not the young Child named Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins? Had the plan of God now fallen apart? Had the purpose of God come undone now because of the anger of Herod?

The Magi, following the Star, came to Jerusalem, to Herod, asking, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2). Now, Herod had been placed by the Romans as king over Jerusalem, but here was news of the rightful king whose coming had long been prophesied. Herod would not yield quietly to that.

Even the Star itself had been prophesied and was an indicator of the time of the Great King (Numbers 24:17). That is why the wise men came from the east — they had seen the Star. In the prophesy, this Great King would have dominion over all the enemies of God’s people, including Edom and Seir (Number 24:18). Herod was of Edom.

So Herod called together the chief priests and scribes and asked where this Messiah was to be born. They knew the prophecies, yet they were as troubled about it as Herod was. They answered that it would be in Bethlehem of Judea, according to Micah 5:2.

Herod met with the wise men again, this time in secret, for he was setting up a ruse. When he learned from them when the Star had first appeared, he sent them on their way, asking them to return when they found the infant King, so he could go and worship, too.

The wise men followed the Star on to Bethlehem, and found Jesus, now a young child, dwelling there in a house, along with His mother. They opened their treasures and presented Him with rich gifts befitting royalty. “Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way” (Matthew 2:12).

It was when they departed that the angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream a second time: “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” Joseph quickly obeyed.
When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son. (Matthew 2:14-15)
Ah, so this did not catch God by surprise after all. He had even indicated it long before through the prophets. Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Hosea was talking about the exodus, when the children of Israel were delivered from Egyptian bondage. But Matthew sees a parallel here: Just as Israel experienced a time of exile in Egypt, so did Israel’s Messiah. And just as Israel’s bondage in Egypt did not mean the end of God’s plan, neither did Jesus’ exile in Egypt. In fact, it offered Him an important point of identification with the history of God’s people, whom He came to save.

Joseph’s second angelic dream did not signal that the first dream had failed. It had succeeded wonderfully, just as God said. It was so successful, in fact, that it had aroused the anger of the enemy.
Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet saying:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refused to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”
(Matthew 2:16-18)
Matthew finds a parallel between Herod’s “slaughter of the innocents” and an earlier time in Israel’s history, a time of exile and destruction. We find the prophet’s words in Jeremiah 31:15. Ramah was a territory apportioned to the tribe of Benjamin; Rachel was the mother of Benjamin who died giving him birth and was buried in Bethlehem. So Jeremiah uses the tears of Rachel as a symbol of the inconsolable weeping heard in the desolate land when Israel was carried off into Babylonian captivity. But there was also an expectation of hope, found in the next verse:
Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy,
There is hope in your future, says the LORD,
That your children shall come back to their own border.
(Jeremiahs 31:16)
In the same way, the rage of Herod, which had destroyed the future of so many Hebrew children and sent the young Messiah into exile, could not undo the plan of God. The message of Joseph’s second angelic dream, “Flee to Egypt,” was not a capitulation to the enemy. It did not signal the failure of the first dream, but the protection of it. And it bore this important expectation: “Stay there until I bring you word.”

Exile does not mean the end of divine dreams and callings. It is often where they are protected, and even shaped.

Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

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

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Dreams: Do Not Be Afraid

Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:20)
Matthew’s Gospel begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. It may seem like just a list of “begats,” but it tells an important story, tracing the kingly lineage, and the right of Messiah to rule and reign. But before it leads us to Jesus, it first introduces us to Joseph:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
Joseph begins this story with a dream, not the one with the angel, but the one that had already filled his heart with anticipation. He was pledged to be married, and his mind was busily preparing plans for their new life together.

But his dream was suddenly shattered, and his plans broken, when he discovered that Mary was pregnant, and he knew he was not the father. Now it appeared that Mary had been unfaithful and he had been betrayed. So he reluctantly filled his mind with different plans, and his joy was displaced by bitterness.

He had every right, under the law, to break his pledge and set Mary aside — if she had indeed been unfaithful to him. He might even have put her to public shame, except that he still cared for her, even though his heart ached. No, he would still put her away — his own honor demanded that — but he would do it quietly.

Joseph did not act hastily, but passionately pondered these things, his heart and his head debating whether to follow through with this intention. He was almost hardened to what he must do, when something unexpected happened:
But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21)
“Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” Before Matthew’s Christmas narrative is through, we will see this same declaration three times, at key moments.

It is easy to overlook the word “behold,” as if it was nothing more than a simple connective. But Matthew uses it very purposefully, drawing our attention to something important, something we are likely to miss if we understand things only in the natural. It is an indicator concerning something that was happening in the spiritual realm.

“Behold!” But what are we to give special attention to? “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” A messenger from God, for that is what an angel really is, was sent to Joseph in a dream. Dreams were often recorded in the Old Testament as a means by which God revealed His plans to His people. Now Joseph was having just such a dream. Not only that, but an angel of the Lord appeared to him in it.

It was a startling thing, a burst of brightness. The Greek word for “appear” means that this angel was radiant with light; and he came to shine in the shadows of Joseph’s troubled understanding.

The angel addressed him: “Joseph, son of David.” Here is the important connection to the royal lineage with which Matthew began his account. Joseph was legal heir to the throne which God promised would continue in David’s family line forever.

“Do not be afraid.” No doubt, Joseph was intimidated by this glorious appearance. Who wouldn’t be? But in the midst of the despair that had enveloped his heart, these words also brought a glimmer of hope: “Don’t be afraid—all is not lost!”

“Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife.” Here was the directive, and the anticipation that there was a future for Joseph and his beloved after all. And now came the understanding Joseph had been lacking and for which he was unprepared: “For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

So this was not about Mary after all, but about God. Mary had not been unfaithful to Joseph; God was showing Himself strong, and faithful to an ancient promise, for this was about Messiah: “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for he will save his people from their sins” (his name means “The LORD saves”).

Joseph’s former plans would be set aside, and he would grieve for them no longer; God had now revealed a greater plan. Joseph would still have his Mary, but now he would step into destiny.
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her until she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS. (Matthew 1:24-25)
The dream of Christmas is that God steps into hopeless situations, shines the brightness of His glory and fulfills the promise of redemption in unexpected ways.

Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Prayer and a Heart Without Doubt

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 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)
The secret to a prayer without a doubt is a heart that does not condemn. To condemn means to find fault with, or holding something against someone. If your heart is finding fault with you or holding something against you, it can wreck the boldness and assurance with which you approach God. But if your heart is clear, your confidence will be strong.

So what is John talking about here? If our heart does not condemn us — about what? It is about keeping the commandments of God, and according to John, that comes down to two things: Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and love one another.

1. Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

The apostle Paul declared, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). If you have received the Lord Jesus, there is no sentence of judgment that rests on you—Jesus took that in your place. God does not condemn you!

2. Love one another

This is the commandment Jesus gave to John and the other disciples on the night He instituted the Lord’s Supper. “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).

Failure to love wrecks our confidence towards God because it shifts our focus off of God and onto ourselves. God showed His love to us through Jesus Christ, and He intends for that love to overflow to others through us. When we share that love freely with others, we are allowing God’s love to flow through us. But when we withhold that love from others, God does not withhold His love from us, but we stop the flow of His love from having its way in our lives. Then when the devil comes and whispers his accusations, our hearts begin to believe them.

Now, watch as James shows how failure to love can twist your prayer life and spoil your confidence towards God:
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:1-3)
Clearly, this is not loving one another. It is self-centeredness. Prayer is not about our own pleasures but about God’s purpose, and His purpose is to love, because God is love (1 John 4:8).

Prayer is a very powerful thing. Jesus promised, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). But then He added, “And whenever you stand praying if you have anything against anyone, forgive him” (v. 25). As powerful as prayer is, if we are unwilling to love one another by forgiving one another, it will seriously hinder our faith and keep us from receiving what we have asked. For as Paul concluded, faith works through love (Galatians 5:6).

A Heart That Does Not Condemn

The declaration of Scripture is that there is no condemnation for those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ. God does not condemn us, but sometimes our heart does, especially when we know that we have not been walking in love toward God and each other. But there is a ready solution at hand, and it is found in Jesus Christ. As John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

To confess means to agree with God about it, that it is wrong and does not belong in our lives. When we do that, God promises, not only to forgive us our sins, but to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, that is, to deal with sin in our lives and lead us into victory over them. Then we are free to love as we have been loved by God, and our heart will find anything against us.

Oh, the devil may still come and whisper in your ear, making accusations against you, and try to set your heart in confusion. But you don’t have to listen to him. Instead, you can take the promises of God and say:
“I have received the Lord Jesus Christ, and there is now no condemnation for me, because I am in Him.”
If there is any sin in your life, or if you have not been walking in love, confess it to God, and trust Him to forgive you and to remove it from your life. You can always God boldly to God, for He has promised.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
When our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God, and we can know that whatever we ask of Him, we will receive, because we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in love toward each, loving our neighbor as ourselves. Then the power of prayer and faith are released in a mighty way.

(See also, Outspokenness Toward God)

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Excellent Ones

As for the saints who are on the earth,
They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.
(Psalm 16:3)
Who are the excellent ones? The saints who are on the earth. The Hebrew word for “saints” is qadosh, which means “holy.” To be holy means to be set apart for a special purpose. The saints are those who are set apart by God for His special. They are the godly ones, those who seek after God, to love Him, serve Him and trust Him with all their hearts.

Why does David, the psalmwriter, delight in the saints of God? It is because He has first delighted in God Himself. As he says in the previous verse:
O my soul, you have said to the LORD,
“You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from you.”
(Psalm 16:2)

To delight in the LORD means, in part, to love what He loves.
  • David delighted in God: “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you’re the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
  • The LORD delights in His people: “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).
  • Therefore, David delighted in the people of the LORD, too.
Of the saints, the people of God, David says, “They are the excellent ones.” To lay out the meaning a bit more: “They are the great ones, the majestic ones, the powerful ones, the glorious ones.”

Then David adds, “In whom is all my delight.” The Hebrew word for “delight” here is the same one used in Psalm 1:2, “But his delight is in the law of the Law, and in His law he meditates both day and night.” As much as we are to delight in the Word of God, that is how much we are to delight in the people of God.

Now, to delight in the people of God does not mean that we are going to agree on everything. It doesn’t even mean that we are always going to get along. We might not even always agree to disagree. No matter. But to delight in the people of God means that I am always going to believe and look for God’s best in them. Through faith in Jesus Christ they have become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). They have received the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14), and the fruit of the Spirit is present within their beings (Galatians 5:23-24). They are being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), and as He is, so are they in this world (1 John 4:17). They have a rich inheritance and a wonderful calling, and it is an honor to walk with them in this life.

Every Tuesday morning, it is my privilege to lead a small group of men in worship and Bible study. These are mighty men of God, men of faith who have learned to look to the Lord in everything. They are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.

Once a month, I meet with a diverse group of pastors, and I get to lead them in a time of worship as we enter into prayer and intercession for our city. They are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.

The little church where we fellowship, Revival Outreach Center in Dover, FL, is full of people who are continually pressing into the heart of God, stretching and enlarging to extend the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to others in our community and around the world. They are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.

Father, thank You for all my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. I thank You for what You are doing in them. Because you see Jesus in them, I will look and see Jesus in them, too. For they are the excellent ones, the majestic ones, the glorious ones, the powerful ones, in whom is all my delight. Thank You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, December 4, 2006

The Table of My Inheritance

O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
(Psalm 16:5-6)
This morning I took of the Table of the Lord using this passage. Everything I need — forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, freedom from bondage, and even prosperity — is in the atonement, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ given and shed for me. And it is symbolized in the communion elements of the bread and the wine.

The significance that the use of “cup” in this verse has for me in regard to the Lord’s Table is pretty apparent. At the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus took the cup, blessed it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Lord 22:20).

In Bible times, a covenant was marked by the shedding of blood, so that the two parties did not just make a covenant, they cut a covenant. At the cross, Jesus instituted a new and better covenant between God and man, and it was cut with the shedding of His blood. The cup of the Lord’s Table is the symbol that quickens us to that reality.

Now, the essence of covenant is in exchange: All we are and have belongs to God; all He is and has belongs to us.
  • Jesus took our sin; we receive His righteousness.
  • He took our sicknesses; we receive His healing.
  • He took the chastisement that belonged to us; we receive His peace.
All we have is His; all He has is ours. That is why Paul calls us joint-heirs with Christ: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). Paul talks about this often:
If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. (Ephesians 1:11)

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. (Ephesians 1:18)

It has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:6)

That having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:7)
All that the Lord Jesus Christ receives from the Father, He shares with us, holding nothing back.

Lord Jesus, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places. Yes, I have a good inheritance!

(See also Yahweh, the Portion of My Inheritance and My Cup)