Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Table of One Thing

One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
(Psalm 27:4)
David was the commander of an army, and he was in a very tight spot—so tight that he knew he would not make it through unless he had faith that he would see the goodness of God manifest for him in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13). Yet there was one thing he knew he needed even more than that; one thing he desired above all, and sought with everything that was in him. “That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.”

David had one thing on his mind, one thing he desired, but it had these three facets.
  • To “dwell” – the Hebrew word yashab means to remain, abide, and even to marry! David wanted to know the presence of the Lord always.
  • To “behold” – the Hebrew word chazah means to gaze upon, perceive, contemplate, to have a vision, a revelation of something. What is it that David want to see and know in such a deep way? The beauty of the Lord; to see God in all His grace and glory, His splendor and majesty, His goodness and kindness, how delightful and pleasant He is.
  • To “inquire” – the Hebrew word is baqar means to search out and investigate. David wanted to explore God, to know Him more and more.
Think now of when Jesus came to the home of Mary and Martha. Mary sat at His feet, drinking in His words; Martha was “distracted” — the Greek word behind this means to be dragged away — by many things. She complained to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40). How did Jesus answer?
Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:41-42)
Martha was anxious about many things, and she let them drag her away from fellowship with the Lord Jesus, who was right there in the midst of everything. But Jesus gently directed her focus away from the many distracting things to the one thing that was needed most of all. Mary had chosen that one thing, the “good part,” and He was not about to let that be taken away from her. Indeed, he was implicitly inviting Martha to enjoy that wonderfully necessary time with Him, too.

The Table of the Lord is the Table of One Thing. It is that “good part” that we need most of all — time to dwell with Him, to gaze upon Him in His beauty and grace, and to explore who He is, to know Him more and more and more. It is listening to His voice and beholding the reality of His body given and His blood shed for us. It is inquiring of Him in a most profound way.

Are you burdened and dragged away by many things? Come to the Table of One Thing and contemplate the Lord Jesus Christ. Explore the revelation of His love for you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Laying Up Treasure: Heaven on Earth

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20)
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray “Your kingdom, come! Your will, be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). The kingdom of God is the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven.

A few verses later, Jesus tells us to lay up for ourselves treasures, not on earth, but in heaven. On earth, they are subject to loss, corrosion and theft. But in heaven, where the will of God is always perfectly fulfilled, there is not loss. The system of the world is to lay up treasure for ourselves on earth. People hide it in their sock drawers or stuff it under their mattresses, or put it into banks and various accounts, and then trust in it to meet their needs. Then when times are tough and the “rainy day” comes, they look to it to be their source and savior. Often, they discover that it is not adequate for the job; then they have to learn how to live with lack, or else barely squeak by.

The system of God’s kingdom, where His will is being done on earth as it is in heaven, is very different. Jesus tells us to lay up treasure for ourselves in heaven. Instead of trusting in our financial resources to meet our needs, He tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” and all our needs will be met (Matthew 6:33).

Laying up treasure for yourself in heaven is seeking the kingdom of God and His will being done on earth as it is in heaven. It is all a matter of where you are placing your trust—on earth or in heaven. When we trust in heaven, we will see the kingdom, the will of God, and the treasure we have laid up there manifested on earth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

An Atheist Notion of Evil?

I just finished watching this interview (about an hour and 10 minutes long) between Christian theologian and apologist Alister McGrath and atheist Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion). One of the things I was struck by in Dawkins’ responses was his reference to morality, good, right and evil. In fact, this interchange was originally shot for Dawkins BBC documentary, which was entitled The Root of All Evil, although it was not included in the final edit. At one point, Dawkins speaks of something he considered to be “deeply evil.”

To speak of morality, of course, implies that there is also immorality. Talk of what is right implies that there is also that which is wrong. And Dawkins, in the course of this piece, spoke of both good and evil.

What strikes me about all this is that Dawkins is an atheist. That is, he believes that there is no God; that the universe has no personal creator, that it is all nothing more than a matter of … well, matter.

So where does the idea of morality/immorality, good/evil and right/wrong come from? If the universe is nothing more than a material conglomeration, then all that exists simply exists. It is what it is, neither good nor evil, moral nor immoral, right nor wrong. To say that something is moral or immoral requires a standard that goes beyond the material world. Such distinctions as good and evil do not arise from the world itself.

In short, all talk about good and evil, etc., implies the existence of an arbiter which transcends the natural realm, a lawgiver, the dictates of which must be followed, even a judge to whom we owe accountability. Such an entity sounds very much like what we would call God.

It seems that Dawkins wants to have it both ways. On the one hand, he wishes to be an atheist, denying the existence of such a being as God to whom he must be accountable. On the other hand, he wants to hold on to the notion of good and evil, which implies an accountability that the material universe does not and cannot require. Of course, inasmuch as Dawkins does speak of good and evil, and even of morality, it would appear that he reserves the role of arbitration to himself, in effect, making himself his own god.

That is the ancient deception offered by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. He tempted Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, promising that they would be like God (Genesis 3:6). There were a number of problems with that, or course. For one thing, God specifically commanded them not to. For another thing, they were trying to be like God all on their own, quite apart from God — which was quite ironic because God created them to be like Him (Genesis 1:26-28), but it could only work in relationship with Him. Likewise, they were trying to know good and evil apart from relationship with God, instead of in relationship with Him, and that is always a disaster.

That is the Dawkins delusion.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Table of Good Things

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
(Psalm 84:11)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:11)

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)
The Table of the Lord is the Table of God’s Son. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Seeing that He has given us His own dearly loved Son to die upon the cross for our sakes, is there any reason to suppose that He will not now freely give us all things? He who is the giver of every good and perfect gift, shall He withhold any good thing from those who are made righteous in Jesus Christ?

In the Table of the Lord, the bread and the cup speak of God’s great love poured out in the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. It tells us of the righteousness that is now ours through faith in Him. It proves that the will of the Father for us is good in every way, to save us, free us, heal us, and restore us to wholeness and right relationship with our loving God. It demonstrates that He will not withhold any good thing from us.

The Table of the Lord is the Table of Good Things, where we may come to ask and receive all that we need in this life. Thanks be to God.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Table of Covenant Mindfulness

He will ever be mindful of His covenant. (Psalm 111:5)
God is always mindful of the covenant He has made with His people. This speaks of more than just God’s omniscience; it is about intentionality. He keeps His covenant promises continually set before His eyes.

David made a covenant with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3). When David became king, he looked around and asked, Now David said, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1). He was mindful of the covenant he made with Jonathan.

The Table of the Lord is a table of covenant. When Jesus took the cup and gave it to His disciples, He said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). The essence of covenant is exchange. When we, by faith, enter into this covenant with Him, all we have belongs to Him and all He has belongs to us. The cross is where this exchange took place:
  • Jesus took our sin upon Himself and gave us His righteousness (Isaiah 53:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • Jesus took our sickness and pains and gave us His healing power (Isaiah 53:4-5).
  • Jesus took or chastisement and gave us His peace (Isaiah 53:5).
  • Jesus took the curse of the from us and gave us the blessing of Abraham (Galatians 3:13-14).
  • Jesus took our poverty and gave us His prosperity and abundance (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Jesus is always mindful of His covenant and He is always presenting it before the Father by the testimony of His blood. When we take of the Table of the Lord, it is a powerful moment for us, also, to be mindful of the covenant He has made with us. The bread and the cup show us the body that was given and the blood that was shed for our benefit. They demonstrate that, in Jesus Christ, we are blessed with all blessing. It is a time to declare, with David,
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them,
they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.
(Psalm 139:17-18)
God is always thinking about the covenant He has made with us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Table of the Lord is an opportunity for us to mindful of all He has done for us and all we have in Him. For this reason, it is the Table of Covenant Mindfulness.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Table of Quieting Love

He will quiet you with His love. (Zephaniah 3:17)
This morning I took the Table of the Lord with this verse, with this line in particular: “He will quiet you with His love.” In context, the prophet is speaking about how the Lord has taken away the judgments that were on us (v. 15); He will not bring them up any more. In another place, the Lord, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). Our sins, and the judgments we deserve, are all removed from us, as far as the east is from he west (Psalm 103:12). Paul put it this way: “There is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

How is it that God takes away the judgments and no longer remembers our sins? We behold the answer whenever we receive the Lord’s Table. The bread reveals to us the body of Jesus, given for us; the cup shows us the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for our sins. All the judgment of God, all His anger on sin and unrighteousness was poured out on Jesus at the cross. Jesus took our condemnation, the death and judgment that rightfully belonged to us. Now it is no longer ours, and God remembers our sins no more.

Nor does He remind us of them. The devil, however, dearly loves to remind us about our past, our failures, our sins. He even makes things up about us and accuses us of them. That is why he is called the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10).

God will have none of that. When we do sin, He has provided a way for us to deal with it: “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). There is no condemnation on us, though; it has all been laid upon Jesus, and fully dealt with at the cross.

The Table of the Lord is a place where He quiets us with His love, where He silences the voices of the accuser that come and whisper in our ears. Even as we behold the bread and the cup, God Almighty beholds the body and blood of His Son — and that settles the matter! For Jesus was made to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21), and that is how God now sees us in Jesus Christ. And that is how the Table of the Lord teaches us to see ourselves — in Him.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
The manifestation of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ is overwhelming — deeper, wider, higher than we can imagine. The Table of the Lord is a wonderful opportunity to dive in and explore it, relax into it, find cleansing and healing in it, and let it quiet our hearts before Him.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

God Rejoices Over Us

The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17)
Many Christians think God is mad at them or sad about them, but the truth is that He is neither — He is glad about us. He is bright and cheerful about us (that is what the Hebrew word for the first “rejoice” means). He rejoices with gladness over us. He whirls and twirls and spins (the meaning of the second “rejoice) over us with singing — literally, with shouts of joy, even creaking. He celebrates over us with wild dancing and jubilation.

Paul tells us that we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). That is, God accepts us in Jesus Christ, His Beloved. When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, the Spirit descended like a dove and the voice of the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). When we were baptized into Jesus Christ, we were baptized into His love, and the voice of the Father said over us what it said over Him: This is My beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” God delighted over us with dancing and singing.

The Lord also quiets us with His love. In context, this demonstrates that God does not remember our sins against us. As He said in another place, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). God silences the memory of that, and so quiets our trepidations before Him with His love. Martin Luther said of this, “He will cause you to be silent so that you may have in the secret places of your heart a very quiet peace and a peaceful silence.” God’s perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

Who is this who rejoices so over us? He is called The Mighty One. Some render it “A mighty one who will save” (ESV, RV), or “Mighty to save” (NIV). The NASB has “A Victorious Warrior.” He is in our midst, not matter what we are going through. Paul said, “In all these things [tribulations, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and sword] we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

If you know the Lord Jesus, God rejoices over you with singing and dancing. He is mighty in your midst to take care of you in every way, and He will quiet you with His love.

Speaking about baptism, here is a song I wrote about how Christian baptism is a sign of God’s love and acceptance of us into the body of Christ: I Have Been Baptized.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Living the Christian Life

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

For to me, to live is Christ. (Philippians 1:21)

For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Living the Christian life is not my job; it is His job. I cannot do it myself, but He can do it in me. The fruit of the Spirit is His fruit — I cannot manufacture it; He must manufacture it in me. I am not the vine; Jesus is the vine, and I am merely the branch.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
The Christian life is not my life at work for Him; it is His life at work in me.

Our job is not to live the Christian life. Our job is to live by faith in the Son of God — to believe His life, His strength, His fruit at work in us, and yield to it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Table of Blessing

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)
The Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross to deliver us from the curse of the Law. As Isaiah said, “The chastisement for our peace was upon Him” (Isaiah 53:5). He took our chastisement and gave us His peace. Paul said, “He [God] made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. He took our sin and gave us His righteousness.

In the same way, Jesus took the curse that belonged to us, bore it in His own body to the cross and nailed it there. He cursed the curse for our sakes, but that is not all. In place of the curse, He made it possible for the blessing of Abraham to come upon us. This is the blessing that belongs, not only to Abraham, but also to all his “seed.”
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)
What is the blessing? It is the favor and power of God at work in your life.

What does it look like? It is too much to tell in this short space, but there are some wonderful descriptions of what God has planned for His people, all who are the seed of Abraham through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Deuteronomy 28:1-14
  • Psalm 1:1-3
  • Psalm 103:1-6
  • Psalm 112:1-10
  • Malachi 3:10-12
  • 2 Corinthians 9:8
  • 3 John 2
It was at the cross, where Jesus gave His body and shed His blood, that He exchanged the curse that was on us for the all the blessing the comes with being Abraham’s seed. It is at the Table of the Lord that we receive the signs of His body given and His blood shed for us. When we eat the bread and drink from the cup, we are showing the Lord’s death, which has redeemed us from the curse and opened up to us all God promised Father Abraham.

The Table of the Lord is the Table of Blessing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Great and Unexpected Acts

Who does great things, and unsearchable,
Marvelous things without number.
(Job 5:9)

Doing great things, and there is no searching.
Wonderful, till there is no numbering.
Young’s Literal Translation

Qui facit magna et inscrutabilia et mirabilia absque numero.
Latin Vulgate

After all, he’s famous for great and unexpected acts; there’s no end to His surprises.
The Message
Mortgages are collapsing. People are being laid off. Iran is trying to go nuclear. And you probably know the problems and difficulties you are facing personally.

But remember, God is famous for great and unexpected acts, and there is no end to His surprises. When we look to Him and believe His promises — oh, how quickly things can change! The improbable and impossible start happening. God reveals His magnificent favor to those who trust in Him.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
(Psalm 84:11)
That’s why Jesus came — to make us righteous, so that we may know the grace and glory of God in our lives. It does not matter how dark things may appear, when you know the Lord Jesus, the grace and glory of God will show up to guide, provide and protect you. God is famous for it.

God is famous for great and unexpected acts. There is no end to His surprises.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Table of Divine Power and Glory

So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
(Psalm 63:2)

So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory.
The Message
This morning, as I took the Table of the Lord, I meditated on this verse. I sought Him in His sanctuary, the holy place, the tabernacle of His the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, symbolized by the bread and the cup. I sought Him also in the tabernacle of my own being, for as believers in Jesus Christ, we are His holy temple (1 Corinthians 1:19; Ephesians 2:21; 1 Peter 2:5). I looked and I saw the Lord Jesus — His life, His power, His glory — within me.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20)

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

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)

“Power” is strength, the ability to do things. The Hebrew word for “glory” is kabod, and literally means “weightiness.” It is used for the value of every good thing. We have the power and glory, the divine ability to accomplish every good thing, at work in us through Jesus Christ.

Come sit at His table. As you partake of the bread and the cup, let it remind you that you partake of the divine nature, the life of Christ now at work in you. For the Table of the Lord is the Table of Divine Power and Glory.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Getting There from Here

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
God is not mad at you. He has planned a future and a hope for you, and Jesus came so that you could enter into it — that you might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). He was not talking just about heaven, but about heaven on earth.

You might look around at your current situation and think, “But how can I ever get there from here.” You may not see the way, and you may even think that there is no way.

The truth is that you and I cannot get there on our own. But that is only half of the truth; the other half is that God not only knows the way, but if we will trust in Him, He will lift us out of were we are and bring us into the wonderful future and hope that He has planned for us from the beginning.
I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them.
(Isaiah 42:16)

He raises the poor out of the dust,
And lifts the needy out of the ash heap,
That He may seat him with princes —
With the princes of His people.
(Psalm 113:7-8)
Paul tells us that God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think” according to His power at work in us (Ephesians 3:20). The NIV has it as “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Often, we let our current situation limit our thinking and our imagination. But God’s thoughts are not limited at all, and if we ask, He will share His thoughts with us by His Word and the Holy Spirit. That is what Paul prayed for the Ephesians, that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so they could realize the joyful anticipation of what God calls us to, to know the riches of the inheritance He has placed in us, and to understand the greatness of His power toward us who believe (Ephesians 1:15-20).

God has a plan and a future for each one of us. We do not know how to get there from here, but God does, and that is all that matters. Our job is to believe His promise, receive His wisdom and revelation, and to ask and imagine — in the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Foundation of Prosperity

And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness; And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things.
(Psalm 45:4)
Christians recognize that this psalm speaks about Jesus, who is King over all. The hymn, “Fairest Lord Jesus,” is based on this psalm, especially verse 2, “You are fairer than the sons of men.” Jesus is King, and there is no one who is more prosperous than Him.

The Hebrew word for “prosperous” here means to advance, progress, move forward, break out, come mightily, go over, and even to be profitable. God’s desire for you and me is that we have prosperity in all things. That is how the apostle John prayed:
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2)
Notice that this prosperity is based, first of all, on how we are prospering in our souls. That is, prosperity is first a matter of the heart. And that is what we find in this psalm: Prosperity is founded upon truth, humility and righteousness.
  • Truth — the Hebrew word for “truth” refers to that which is solid, steadfast and dependable. That is the same thing John referred in 3 John, where, in context, we see that prosperity of soul has to do with walking in truth.
  • Humility — this is often translated as “meekness” and speaks of a gentleness toward others, especially toward those who are weak or oppressed. Those who walk in meekness or humility do not conduct themselves in arrogance or pride, but in love. John speaks of this same thing in his letter.
  • Righteousness — this is, simply put, that which is right, especially as it pertains to the ways of God. The Hebrew word also refers to prosperity. Jesus taught us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). When we know the Truth, that is, come into a personal relationship with the Truth, it sets us free (John 8:32). Not only that, but when we receive Him, we gives us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth (John 16:13).

Jesus is the perfect example of humility. He did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), and He taught His disciples that whoever desires to become great must become a servant (Matthew 20:26). Paul said,
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
Jesus Christ is the righteousness of God, for He obeyed the Father perfectly in all things. He did only what He saw the Father doing, and said only what He heard the Father saying. He came to do the will of the Father, His human will in complete alignment with the divine will. Not only that but He came to replace our sinfulness with His righteousness.
For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ, we become the righteousness of God in Him. As we follow Him, He will lead us into all truth, humility and righteous freedom and prosperity.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Joy of All Creation

In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11)

Joy is nothing more than the creation imitating its Creator.
—Rav Ashlag, 20th century Kabbalist

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
—The first teaching from the Westminster Catechism
Joy is all about God; it is at home in His presence. All creation was made to manifest His pleasure, and we were created to enjoy Him forever. The earth is longing for this fulfillment, which has been delayed by the rebellion of Adam in the Garden, but is now back on track in the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. The apostle Paul said
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)
All creation groans and waits in anticipation of sharing in the joy of the Creator as it is revealed in the joy of His fully-grown sons and daughters.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

El Simcha Gheel: God, My Exceeding Joy

Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.
(Psalm 43:3-4)
When God sends His light and truth to lead us into His presence, it is a cause for exceeding joy. That is why the Sons of Korah, in this psalm, call Him El Simcha Gheel — God, My Exceeding Joy. El is the Hebrew for “God.” Simcha is one of the words for “joy.” It means gladness, blithesomeness, mirth, pleasure and joy — not just a little, but a lot. Gheel is another word for joy and literally means to spin, whirl and twirl. It is a dancing joy. Together they are a powerful combination. God is Our Exceeding Joy, or as Young’s Literal Translation has it, “The Joy of My Rejoicing.” David also experienced this truth. He said to the Lord,
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalm 16:11)
This is why Jesus came. God sent Him into the world to be the Light that gives light to everyone who comes into the world (John 1:9). He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, the only one who can lead us to the Father (John 14:6).

Jesus is the path of life that leads us to abundant and exuberant joy, joy without limits. He is God, Our Exceeding Joy — the Joy of Our Rejoicing.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

More Than We Can Imagine

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.
Sir Arthur Eddington, astrophysicist

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
The divine power that created the universe is at work in us through Jesus Christ. It is more than we can imagine. Glory be to God!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Reciprocity of Sowing and Reaping

There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty.

The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
(Proverbs 11:24-25)
How can one scatter and yet increase? How can another hold on tight to what he has, and still end up broke? It is the reciprocity of sowing and reaping, of seedtime and harvest: Sow a seed, reap a harvest. The one who is scattering in this verse is actually broadcasting seed.

Paul talked about this in his letter to the Corinthians: “He who sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). Seeds work only when you plant them. Hold them in your hand, or keep them in your pouch, and they will bring you no return. Sow a little, reap a little; sow a lot, reap a lot.

“The generous soul will be made rich.” Or as Paul said, sow bountifully, reap bountifully. He was speaking in a financial context, but the principle is applicable in every aspect of life. Jesus said,
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38)
Now, the principle works both ways, both positively and negatively. Give out judgment and condemnation, and you will get a boatload of it back. That is actually what Jesus is talking about here. But sow kindness and mercy, and that is what you will reap. Help others to prosper, and you will end up prospering also. Or as the proverb says, “He who waters will also be watered himself.” When you refresh others, you will also be refreshed. Paul tells us that “whatever a man sows, the he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

Eugene Peterson translates these proverbs this way:
The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.
Whatever you sow, that is what you will reap. Sow sparingly, reap sparingly. Sow bountifully, reap bountifully. The choice is yours.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Divine Planting, Divine Results

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)
First day of a new month, and here I am again considering Psalm 1. I’ve written about it quite a few times; perhaps I will write a book about it someday.

This verse is talking about the man who does not walk, talk and think like the world, but instead focuses his himself on the Law of the LORD, the Word of God. It changes Him profoundly and sets the arc of his life in a wonderful direction.

“He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” It is not a scene in the wild that he describes here, but an intentional planting. God is cultivating something in his life. He is divinely placed and divinely nurtured. God has carefully chosen that spot for him, and him for that spot, to bring forth maximum results, optimal blessing.

Because this man has made his bread out of every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4), because he is a doer of the Word and not just a hearer (James 1:22-25), he comes to find himself in this place of freshness and fruitfulness, of provision and prosperity. He is a planting of the LORD (Isaiah 61:3).

Those who live according to the divine pattern find themselves in a divine place and receive divine results.