Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Light of Heaven, the Fire of Hell

God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

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)

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. (Revelation 21:23).
The light of God is His glory, the expression of His majesty and goodness. It is the light of heaven and earth. Jesus is the light, “the true Light which give light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:8). In Him is life, and the life is the light of men (John 1:4).
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’ (John 8:12)
Though Jesus gives light to everyone who comes into the world, there are those who would rather have darkness.
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:19-21)
In the end, though, it is the light that prevails. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5). Indeed, as John says, “The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:8). But for those who love the darkness, the light is a torment, and for those who hate God, the glory is agony.

God is light, but He is also a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). I don’t think this is speaking of two different things, but rather, two aspects of the same thing. For those who love God and walk in His ways, the light and the glory are a blessing; but for those who despise God and embrace evil, the light and the glory are a terrible consuming fire.

Everything that belongs to God is gathered in as wheat; everything that does not belong to Him is cast out as chaff for “unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12). “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:19). “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age” (Matthew 13:40).

Such expressions are traditionally understood as references to hell, and perhaps that is true. However, they do not speak of literal fire but, I think, of the light of God. Those who love evil are totally unprepared to rejoice in the glory of God. To them, the light of God is a fire of judgment that will not relent. Indeed, it cannot relent, for God cannot cease to be who He is — His glory is eternal.

The light of heaven is the fire of hell. Therefore, be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Where Do You Live?

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together I the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-6)
Paul says that we have been made alive together with Christ, raised up with Him and have been seated in the heavenlies in Christ. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, the place of ruling and reigning. That is where we must be seated as well, since we are seated in Christ. Notice that Paul does not speak of this as future hope but as present reality.

So where do we live? In heaven or on earth? Our thinking gets too earthbound. Sure, we dwell bodily on this material planet. But we are called to have the perspective of heaven.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God [and where we are seated as well]. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)
We are called to live from out of a different place than the only one we knew before we were born again (John 3:6, literally “born from above”). In Jesus Christ we are new creatures and the situation has totally changed for us (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have been made citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). At the end of the Book, heaven and earth become one. It is not that heaven changes, but earth changes as God's kingdom pervades and the will of God is done on earth as in heaven.

Where do you live? If you know Jesus, you are a citizen of heaven and have been raised up and seated with Him in the heavenlies. That changes everything about your life here on earth. Set your mind on things above. Focus on the perspective of heaven and live from that higher place.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Calling Forth Your Divine Destiny

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. (Romans 4:16-17)
God renamed Abram, calling him Abraham. He added a divine “ha” to his name — think of it as the life-giving breath, even the laughter of God — and that changed everything. The name Abram meant “exalted father,” but what a joke that turned out to be. Abram was seventy-five years old when God first came to him, and he and his wife, Sarai, had been barren all their years. No children, therefore no fatherhood for Abram, and by natural reckoning, it was now too late. But God made him a promise anyway: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great” (Genesis 12:2).

Abram began to cast about for how that might happen. Would it be through his nephew Lot? Or perhaps through his servant Eliezer? Sarai came up with a plan they both thought was pretty clever (not!): Why not go and have a child with Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid — maybe that’s what God had in mind. Nope, none of the above.

God came to him again when Abram was about eighty-seven and renewed the word of promise. He directed Abram’s attention to the stars, numberless in the sky: “So shall your descendents be” (Genesis 15:5). Abram believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness (v. 6). Of course, it was just after that that Sarai came up with her brilliant idea, and Abram, still trying to manufacture the fulfillment for himself, thought it was worth a try. That didn’t work out, though, and Abram was back where he started.

Finally, when Abram was ninety-nine years old, God came to him again. And that’s when it happened. God breathed life into his name (God’s word is creative; that’s how He made the heavens and the earth). “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). Abraham means “father of multitudes.” God, who calls things that are not as though they were, was now calling the promise into existence.

Father of Multitudes! That was now Abram’s new name. Whenever he introduced himself to others, he would be speaking his destiny, “Hi, I’m Father of Multitudes.” Whenever Sarah, whose name God changed from Sarai, would call him it would be, “Father of Multitudes.” Now the promise would be in his ears and upon his lips. It would continually stir in his heart. In agreement with God, he would be calling those things that are not as though they were. He would be calling forth his divine destiny. And so it came to pass.

That is how faith works. We receive the promise of God, we believe it in our hearts and we speak it forth with our lips. The heart believes and the mouth confesses, that is, speaks in agreement with it (Romans 10:10). Jesus put it this way:
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)
Gather up the promises God has given you in His Word, the dreams He has dreamed you in the night, the destiny He has whispered in your ears. Believe them with all your heart and confess them with your mouth. Speak them aloud, even if only to yourself. Call them forth in agreement with God. Let Him breathe life into your spirit and put the divine ha! in your heart. He is giving life to what you thought was dead and speaking forth your divine destiny — all of faith and according to His grace.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Praise, Increase and the Theory of Entanglement

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Then the earth shall yield her increase.
(Psalm 67:4-5)
In Quantum Physics there is a theory called Entanglement, which says that two particles that have ever been connected are so related to one another that, even if they are separated on opposite sides of the universe, the state of one affects the state of the other. Consider, then, the significance of Genesis 2:7 in the light of that theory: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground.”

The life of man is found in the breath of God. He became of living being when God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils (Genesis 2:7). But the body of man is inextricably bound with the material of the universe. That is why, when Adam disconnected from the life of God through his rebellion, it affected the whole planet: “Cursed is the ground for your sake [i.e., because of you] … for out of it you were taken” (Genesis 3:17, 19).

Just as all creation was affected by the fall of man, so all creation finds restoration in the redemption of man.
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)
This brings out the significance of the psalm: “Let all the peoples praise You. Then the earth shall yield her increase.” When the nations and peoples of the earth release praise to God, it is not just the expression of redeemed humanity, it also brings forth fruitfulness from the dust of the ground with which we are so connected. The earth yields her increase because of our praise.

When we are out of joint with God through rebellion, ingratitude and unbelief, the whole earth is out of joint, too. But when we return to God in faith and praise, divine order is reestablished in the earth because we are so entangled with the stuff of creation. In this manner, therefore, pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom, come. Your will, be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10).

(For some amazing discussion about Entanglement, check out these video clips: Are We All Connected? and Quantum Entanglement and the Power of Intention.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Generation of the Righteous

Blessed is the man who fears the LORD.
Who greatly delights in His commandments.
His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
(Psalm 112:1-2)
The purpose of God in the world reaches out to nations and down through generations. Those who are blessed by the Lord, who delight in His commandments and walk in His ways, leave a great legacy for their children. The blessing we have through faith in Jesus Christ is not just for us, it is for our children — it is their inheritance, if they also will lay hold of it by faith. And it is not just for our children but for all the nations of the earth as our children walk it out in the world.
And your descendants will inherit the nations,
And make the desolate cities inhabited.
(Isaiah 54:2-3)
This is the same blessing God promised Abraham:
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
(Genesis 12:2-3)
Notice the word “families.” It is a very powerful one because it is through families that God does His best work. It is through the family of Abraham that blessing comes to all the families of the earth. The blessing from in Abraham’s family, from one generation to the next, until it was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus went to the cross to deliver us from the curse so that the blessing of Abraham might come upon all, even those not of Abraham’s house (Galatians 3:13-14). Through faith in Jesus Christ, we may now all receive the promise God made in the beginning.

Ever since, the blessing of Abraham has come upon more and more people, family to family, nation to nation, generation after generation. God’s purpose is increasingly being fulfilled until it will one day appear in all its glory. The kingdom of God is coming; the will of God is being done more and more on earth as in heaven.

God is doing it through the influence of fathers, family and inheritance. The Philippian jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31). Through faith, this Philippian father became the gateway for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessing of Abraham to come upon his household; they all believed and were baptized.

The older I get, the more I become aware of God’s workings through the generations. I received the inheritance of faith from my fathers, embraced the Lord Jesus for myself and now I leave a legacy for my children and my children’s children — indeed, for all my descendents. My focus has sharpened and I pray daily for my children, claiming the promise for them. My descendants will be mighty in the land and their generations will be blessed. They will inherit that nations and make the desolate cities inhabited. They will be a blessing to many others in fulfillment continual fulfillment of the promise God gave Father Abraham.
Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
How happy are those who live in awe of God, trust in His Word and walk in His ways. This great joy is for all their descendants, too, as many as will take hold of it by faith in Jesus Christ. For the blessing of Abraham has come to their house.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Time for Pressing In

New year, new opportunities, new challenges (which are really opportunities in disguise). The world is a'twitter about the economy and other things. However, for those who follow after Jesus Christ and seek the kingdom of God and righteousness (His way of doing things), though we are in the world, we are not of it. In Isaiah 54:2-3, we find a different call than the world is hearing.
Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords,
And strengthen your stakes.
For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
And your descendants will inherit the nations,
And make the desolate cities inhabited.
It is a call to preparation, to enlargement, to stretching out into the dream God has given you. It is not a time for sparing or holding back your resources but a time for lengthening your tent cords and strengthening your stakes, to expand your vision on all sides. God is giving us an inheritance to live out and a legacy for the next generation that will bless the nations, make the barren places fertile and bring life to the desolate cities.

Ever since Jesus came, the kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold it (Matthew 11:12 NIV). Luke’s version says, “Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.” (Luke 16:16 NKJV; see A Kingdom Forcefully Advancing).

Now is the time to keep pressing in for the kingdom of God to be fulfilled and His will done on earth as it is in heaven.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Blessings for a New Year

Meditating and Praying Psalm 1 is how I start each new month and, consequently, each new year. It is good news of blessing and bliss (which is the Hebrew word for “blessed” means — literally an exclamation, “O the happinesses!”) for all those who love the Lord and walk in His ways.
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
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 1:1-3)
Psalm 112 also seems an appropriate one to pray and believe, considering all that is going on around us. It begins:
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights greatly in His commandments. (v. 1)
Let us count the ways such a one is blessed:
  • His descendants will be mighty on earth (v. 2).
  • The generation of the upright will be blessed (v. 2).
  • Wealth and riches will be in his house (v. 3).
  • And his righteousness endures forever (v. 3).
  • Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness (v. 4).
  • He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous (v. 4).
  • A good man deals graciously and lends (v. 5).
  • He will guide his affairs with discretion (v. 5).
  • Surely he will never be shaken (v. 6).
  • The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance (v. 6).
  • He will not be afraid of evil tidings (v. 7).
  • His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord (v. 7).
  • His heart is established (v. 8).
  • He will not be afraid (v. 8).
  • He will see his desire upon his enemies (v. 8).
  • He has dispersed abroad, he has given to the poor (v. 9).
  • His righteousness endures forever (v. 9).
  • His horn will be exalted with honor (v. 9).
For those who know the Lord, there is no reason to fear and every reason to rejoice. This new year holds wonderful things for you. Lay hold of them by faith. Instead of meditating on the dour forecasts of the world, let the promises of God fill your mind, your mouth and your heart.