Friday, February 23, 2018

PSALM 103 VERSE 21: "CHARIOTS OF FIRE AND SONGS OF PRAISE"

Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure (Psalm103:21)
All through this amazing Psalm of the Grace and Love of God towards us, we see the phrase “Bless the Lord”.  He, the Lord, is the Object and complete Focus of all Praise, Adoration, and Worship in this process of “blessing the Lord”. While we expect humans, mere mortals to praise and thank God for ALL He has done for us, we just noted in Verse 20 that the Holy Spirit, writing in the pens of King David, even instructed Angels to Bless His Holy Name. For the angels, this is already second nature. They were at the Creation and God said in Job 38:7 when He stated the following “When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Jesus and the Two Angels who destroyed Sodom
and Gomorrah visit Abraham
The sons of God were/are the Angels in this context. One important note here: whenever we see the Bible, primarily the Old Testament, mention “THE ANGEL OF GOD (or ANGEL OF THE LORD)” (as opposed to the angels), this refers to the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Jesus made several visits to earth even before He was born as a baby in  Bethlehem to Mary. He was walking in the Garden after He created Adam and Eve and was in fellowship with them daily. He had to expel them in Genesis 3 after they bought the lies of Satan. Jesus appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18 (click here). He wrestled with Jacob all night in Genesis  (click here). He appeared in the Pillar of Fire by night and the Cloud by Day to lead Israel through the desert in the Exodus. He appeared to Joshua in Joshua in Joshua 5:10-15 and then Samson’s parents in Judges

In verse 21, here, we see mention of the great Heavenly “Hosts”. This is not a reference to the sun, moon, and stars. Those are not living entities like humans and angels. Just like the President or Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, for example, has Army, Air Force and Marine Generals or Navy Admirals, along with the elite Navy Seals or Special Forces, God has an Army of the Heavenly Hosts who will one day descend on white horses behind the Lord Jesus on the Final Days of the current world. The hosts of heaven were visible for the first time when the Lord allowed Elisha to call for the Chariots of Fire as recorded here in 2 Kings 6:17 in stunning, awestruck wonder: Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the LORD opened the servant's eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha".

The Angels of heaven glorify God. The Armed Forces of Heaven are blazing in the Glory of the Father, and bless His Holy Name….and so must His Ministers.  The ministers of God in the Old Testament were the select few Levite priests who descended from Moses’ brother. Their lives were dedicated to all aspects of Temple worship – from administering at the Holy of Holies to slaying the sacrifice according to Levitical Law. Jesus Christ upended this apple cart!

Since the Resurrection, all Christians who are truly committed disciples of the Lord Jesus, are now ministers. The Apostle Peter relays the following from Heaven in 1 Peter 2:9 "But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light".

All of us are supposed to minister unto the Lord, through obedience, daily prayer, praise, and worship. However, this calls for more. The under-shepherds of Christ – pastors and preachers – have an even greater responsibility. One of the ways which ministers are supposed “to do His pleasure” is to teach, encourage and proclaim the Word of the Lord. Billy Graham was perfect at this. He never said “Billy Graham says”….it was always, “the Bible says”….or the “Bible is clear on this….”. The accountability which ministers, evangelists, parachurch leaders, TV hosts etc have is way above the average Christian. Even writing these explanations of God’s Word on this site carries a serious responsibility. I have to be absolutely sure of what I am writing here, and especially when I write about “thus sayeth the Lord”.

God is not to be trifled with. We, who are blessed with the gift of teaching, preaching and explaining the Word of God and THEN, to express what we have learned about the Incomparable Christ and our Heavenly Father in total praise, MUST do so according to His Precepts! God’s pleasure is found when His people do His Will and do it willingly. His ministers are not only to teach and point to Who He is but to inspire and exhort passion and love, adoration and excitement, reverence and awe for the Incredible God of Heaven. “Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure”.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

PSALM 103 VERSE 20: "ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH"

Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word (Psalm 103:20)
As we discussed in the examination of Psalm 103:19, there is a noticeable switching of the focus away from verses 1 through 18, where God shows what He does for us humans. Verse 19 is the point where not just show our gratitude for the daily grace and favor He shows but now begins to focus on the Power and Sovereignty of God.

One measure of His absolute power is the existence of the Angels. These created beings are also built for eternity, as is all mankind, who was created a little lower than the angels. Now, there was perfection in Heaven at one point.  Lucifer – the devil – was one of the head angels as well as the worship leader in Heaven. When he attempted to elevate himself above God, whom he was supposed to serve, he did more than think about it. Lucifer and one-third of the angels rebelled were captured and while Lucifer remains free for a little longer, his one-third of fallen angels, is in chains in outer darkness, awaiting the final judgment.

The wonderful thing is that the remaining 2/3rd of the Angelic Hosts are strong, powerful, effective and obedient. The special angels who serve at the very Throne of Almighty God, the Father are a special breed called the Seraphim. Most likely, they have been at the Throne since the existence of Time, in eternity past. They have power granted by God, and as Verse 20 says, they “excel in strength”. Without a direct command from God, they know instinctively the holiness and cleansing He requires and flew into the everlasting flame in the altar, removed one coal with tongs, flew back to Isaiah and touched his mouth with the burning coal.  Strange enough, because it was supernatural coal, his mouth was NOT burnt, but the Holy Fire cleans the vilest sin (iniquity) away from him (Isaiah 6:6-7).

Angels showed their power in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, where the only “righteous” people left were Lot, his wife and two daughters. They also brought Judgment to Israel when King David disobeyed God and did a census, bringing literal death to his people. They showed up many times in the Old Testament culminating with a huge amount of them announcing the Messiah’s Birth, on Shepherd’s Field, in Bethlehem when Jesus was born in a humble, cold cave. 

Since the now dearly departed Billy Graham is now in the news, in celebration of the amazing like that he lived, I recommend his book on ANGELS (Click here) where he gave a great exposition on the biblical history of angels as well as the many up-to-date instances of angelic activity in the protection of God’s people. Many are the stories of angels protecting missionaries and others from sure death and danger to our own personal Guardian angels, who are assigned by God, to watch over us until we come home to Heaven.

A word of caution concerning Angels. They obey the Voice and Commands of God – and no one else. They are respectful and defer to the Almighty.  The great Book of Jude, the half-brother of James and the Lord Jesus, has a verse in there where Michael, one of the two main Arch-Angels of God (Gabriel is the other) was disputing with the Devil (Lucifer the fallen angel) over the body of Moses, who had just died.  Michael, recognizing the Authority of God said “did not bring a reviling accusation against him (Satan), but said ‘The Lord rebuke you’”.


Here is Michael, the warrior angel, having every right to act in the natural, overpower the devil and claim Moses’ body for the Lord. But Angels do not operate in the natural, but the supernatural. They do NOT think like sinful men but are the epitome of the kind of righteousness required by God. They are always in His Presence. They know His Mind. They know His way of thinking and His Ways. They know His Commandments and His Word. They heed His Word, spoken and implied and operate happily under the Mighty Sovereignty of Almighty God.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

PSALM 103 VERSE 19: "SOVEREIGN GOD, RULER OF THE HEAVENS"

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all (Psalm 103:19)
“God is in control” is the most popular catchphrase among us Christians, when we come to the realization that there is no way to explain why this, or that, happened.  This is just another way of saying – God is Sovereign, knows all and is in all. In the first 18 verses of Psalm 103, we are given powerful details of the unfathomable, powerful Mind of God. We are told so many things by the Holy Spirit about just a few blessings we should be more than thankful for, it should draw us to our knees…or faces, in sheer gratitude of what He has done for us.

For 18 verses, the amazing list builds on itself, each being a result of the Sovereignty of God. Because God is self-existent, Eternal and sees the end from the beginning, He does what He does. He sits on His Throne in Heaven, from whence He has dispensed both grace and justice from eternity past. That very fact that we are not punished and sent away from Him, to begin with,  is too due to His love, mercy, and compassion. Please reread verses 1-18 of Psalm 103.

Now, we transition from receiving and acknowledging His blessings to full-fledged praise and worship of the Almighty. But first, we must know not just what the Heavens are, but, the meaning of the Sovereignty of God.

We know there are three heavens, from Scripture. The Apostle Paul describes the time He was drawn up to the Throne (just like Isaiah was in Isaiah Chapter 6) and was in the Third Heaven. Paul says I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-- whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- such a man was caught up to the third heaven. (2 Corinthians 12:2).

The Third Heaven is where God resides, with Jesus Christ on His Right Hand, all the Angels and all the saints who have left this earthly life from Adam until the present. Those who are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb, as shed on the Cross – both the Old Testament and since Calvary, are in the Presence of the Father at this very time. This is the Third Heaven where the Timeless Temple of God resides. This is the Third Heaven where the ministering angels and Michael and Gabriel wait on the Lord and His commands. This is the Third Heaven where our Heavenly Father is always working to will and to purpose. He did not create Heaven, Earth and the Stars etc…and then walked away. God is on the move, hallelujah! 

The Second Heaven is the constellation of the Universe we can see with our own eyes and all kinds of telescopes. These are the created galaxies, stars, moons and other planets.  This is commonly called “outer space” and what the Psalms (and other scripture) speak about when the Word declares The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). All Creation worships Him. There are planets and moons yet unknown and created all the time. Who can count the stars in the Heavens? No one can. Yet, He knows them by name – all the billions of stars. How Great is Our God? We can only imagine!

The First Heaven is planet earth and our Atmosphere which goes up 20 miles and stops. Outside of this 20-mile radius is the stratosphere and the Second Heaven. The First Heaven is the only one of the three heavens which support life – AS WE KNOW IT. The birds of the air; the fish of the sea; every living animal on the physical ground of earth and all human beings are supported by the God of the Third Heaven and the Power of His Word. One tiny fraction of one degree off, on this hanging ball called Earth, and the earth will disintegrate. God is so sovereign, His mathematical calculations and technical skills are perfect. All life on this earth, human, and mammal have a relatively brief lifespan, as we well know.

All three heavenly places, as ordained by God, are in complete alignment and harmony with their Creator. The very fact of these Three Heavens illustrates His Sovereignty, His Control, His Management over the affairs of all the universe and His Reign as King of all.  In the dictionary, the word “Sovereign” includes the following words in its definition: Supreme Power; Supreme Authority; Ruler of All and independent of all others.  God is all that and more as we studied in some of His attributes, from Psalm 139.  In Psalm 103: 1-18, so far, we note everything He has done for, given or purposed for us. 

God is Sovereign and the Sole Authority because:
-  Only God can create life and all we see around us
-  Only God can control the life He creates, ordaining the time of birth to the time of death
-  Only God can grant His grace and favor to those who hate Him and even reject Him
-  Only God grants Free Will, yet has set the boundaries across which human will can never cross
-  Only God makes a way, where there is no way. He is the God of miracles in healing and rescues the perishing
-  Only God can create circumstances where are disconnected, only to flow seamlessly into one continuous stream, which can be accomplished according to His planned purposes, at the appointed time
-  Only God can  call the unlikely, equip the illiterate, confound the elitists and raise up the ordinary...to do extraordinary things in His Name
-  Only God gives good things which will not harm, but build up, will not destroy but give life and will not deviate from Truth, but confirm His Sovereignty. "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow" (James 1:17)
-  Only God could create human beings, who while enemies until conversion, still loved us enough to come up the plan for the Greatest Story Ever Told - the Story of God leaving the Throne of Heaven to give His life on a Cross, as payment for all sins, of all times.
-  Only God can come up with the best offer, which only the very foolish refuse - that if we believe in our heart, and confess with our mouths, that Jesus Christ is LORD, we will be saved. This offer is for all people, of all times, in all countries, of all races and all phases of life. From the young to the old and the rich to the very poor, the offer is the same, repent, believe the Gospel and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is so simple, many cast it aside. But it is the Hallmark of the Sovereignty of God
-  Only God can forgive sins, any sins. No man, no priest, nobody but God, through Jesus Christ can forgive our sins if we call out to Him in humility and repentance
-  Only God, Who came up with the Plan of Salvation and Redemption, then gave us His Bible to instruct us for a lifetime, in His Ways can do this - because He is Supreme...because He is in charge....because He always existed and because He has a big heart and loves all His people.
-  Only God, the Sovereign King, and Ruler of Heaven would prepare an eternal home for former rebels against Him, who are now born-again, sanctified in the Holy Ghost sons and daughters of Jesus Christ. He has not just prepared a home for us, but a work for us to do, first in the Millennial Kingdom and then the Eternal Kingdom.
-  Only God can see the End from the Beginning, and that End of the current age is not too far away, as time, as we know it, is drawing rapidly to a close.

PRAYER:

Sovereign God, You alone are good. You are created man a little lower than the angels. What are we, that You, the King of the Universe, would be mindful of us, oh God. You sit in the Heavens, on the Eternal Throne, surrounded by worship, clothed in righteousness, defined by Holiness, covered in an unapproachable light where no man can approach. However, if we come to the end of ourselves, ask forgiveness and accept Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary, as the fulfillment of the Gospel, we will live in the eternal kingdom in Your Presence for all Eternity. Sovereign God, we thank You that You alone are God, and there is NO other.  You rule the affairs of all mankind of all time. You have set a time for Judgment. You have set a Day of Reckoning and in Your Authority, You have set in motion, the coming day of the Eternal Kingdom. We look forward to that coming day, oh most Worthy Father. Thank You, for Jesus Christ, Your Son, and my Savior and Lord of all who have surrendered their lives to Him, Who gave His Life to make life here on earth more meaningful, thereby giving us the Hope for Eternal Life, that we too can one day be in the Eternal Kingdom with You. It is in Your most Holy and Precious Name we pray and look forward to that coming day, in Jesus Strong Name, Amen.

Monday, February 19, 2018

PSALM 103 VERSES 17 AND 18: "INSEPARABLE - LEGACY & COVENANT"

But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them (Psalm 103:17-18)
Leaving a good name or reputation for upright and Godly living as well as just pure goodness is the mark of a life well-lived. It is called Legacy.  The goal of every wise parent or Christian is to not just leave our children better off than we found ourselves but to set a standard towards which they may attain. (Legacy (Webster’s Dictionary) is defined as ‘something transmitted by, or received from, an ancestor or predecessor or from the past”.)

There are two types of legacy. We see the legacies of millionaires, billionaires, and celebrities, many of whom may have had a somewhat moral or even Christian compass at some point in their lives. Brittany Spears, of all people, used to sing in a Southern Baptist church choir in Texas. These people never passed on Godly teaching or values from the Bible to their children, because they themselves were never saved. What then happens is chaos, after their heirs inherited their riches. They soon fritter away their parents’ “legacy” with de
cadent lifestyles and immoral living.

On the other hand, we have the legacy of a great American like Jonathan Edwards, who is well known for preaching the greatest sermon ever in the United States of America! “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God” was preached in East Windsor, Connecticut in July 1741 and was responsible for 500 new souls being convicted and being saved in one service. (Pastor Jonathan Edwards read his sermon monotone, almost without looking up, due to his near-sightedness, while holding his notes close to his face, as an aside.)

Here is the legacy of Jonathan Edwards: They were able to locate and research 1,394 of his known descendants. Thirteen of them became college presidents, 65 college professors, 3 United States Senators, 30 judges, 100 lawyers, 60 physicians, 75 army and navy officers, 100 preachers and missionaries, 60 authors of prominence, one Vice-President of the United States, 80 public officials in other capacities, 295 college graduates, among whom were governors of states and ministers to foreign countries. (Source:  America is Too Young to Die by Leonard Ravenhill, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany Fellowship, 1979, p. 112)

Psalm 103, verse 17 says “The Lovingkindness (mercy) of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting (forever and ever) to those who FEAR (respect, adore, revere, worship and love Him)”. But not just this truth. The same verse also continues “….and His righteousness to children’s children (legacy)”!

This is not just like the legacy of Jonathan Edwards and his descendants, but today we can think of many public figures. Look at the children of the world’s greatest preacher, Billy Graham. The righteousness of God has reached Franklin Graham and the phenomenal work through Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child. The latter reaches tens of millions of children in so many countries each year. When there is a natural disaster in America or in Haiti or elsewhere,  Samaritan’s Purse/My Hope trucks, chaplains and clean up crews show up before anybody else, sometimes.  

Billy Graham’s grandson, Will Graham IV has been preaching at crusades up and down the North American east coast and Europe for over a decade.  And not just these famous people.  Our small local churches are full of men and women who kept the strongest faith in Jesus, raised good Godly families and are now seeing the fruit in their wonderful grandchildren. While we can point to these rich and famous guys, the real work of the church is done in the homes of our faithful Christian families, like our grandparents and in some cases, our own parents. The real work is done, most definitely in our own homes where we send out our own children into the world, fortified in the Word of God and raised with the true knowledge and fear of the Lord.

This is of prime importance because the Lord uses the word “Covenant” in the very next verse.  Whether Christians believe it or not, there IS a legal component to our new position in Christ, as born-again, bought-by-Calvary, committed followers and disciples of Jesus Christ.  When we got saved/redeemed/born-again/pulled-out-of-the-fire,  we entered into a Covenant with Almighty God. The closest thing in human terms would be the legally binding marriage covenant before God, between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24), except there is no thought of divorce or separation.

Webster’s Dictionary (1828) defines Covenant in part, as the Promise of God to us, conditioned on certain terms on the part of man, as obedience, repentance, faith” and us accepting that Promise and living under the Lordship and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ. It is a two way binding agreement. God promises and offers – for Free. We accept and obey, freely.

Psalm 103 Verse 18b then follows up with the following phrase “….and remember His precepts to do them”. Covenant and precepts go together. A precept is basically rules, commandments, commands, decrees, doctrine or anything where there is a set standard 

What is the Lord saying here? He says, in essence the following “You and I are Covenant. You are a Kingdom son or daughter of mine. There are rules in this Kingdom, and precepts which are in My Word – the Bible – and while there are easy to understand and live by, they are to be kept. It will take love, commitment, self-control, boldness and obedience to live by these precepts.  You will fail to do so from time to time. One of my precepts and a clause in the Covenant allows for confession of sin and repentance.  Stay close to me, repent when you fall short. Pray and study My eternal ways and you will find Me even more loving, kind, generous and compassion than you can ever imagine”.  

The Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare says in his classic "Julius Caesar" the following: "the evil that men do, lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones". That is only partially correct. Evil does perpetuate itself. King Solomon caused the fall of Israel as to where it is today, a mostly secular country when he married all these pagan women and allowed their "gods" into God's land. But the good Legacies live on - as we have seen above....and in our own children and grandchildren - if we teach them about Jesus AND LIVE IT!

Both go together. A Godly legacy is predicated on our Covenant with God being real, healthy, really healthy and strong. We make Covenant at the point of Salvation. We maintain and strengthen this Covenant by obedience to the Will, Word and Wonder of God, in Christ....because He is a Good, Good, Father!
This is the message of Psalm 103, verse 17 and 18. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

PSALM 103: VERSES 14, 15 AND 16 - "HE KNOWS MY NAME"

For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer (Psalm 103:14-16)
The brevity of life, life at any age, is never more evident as one day seems to roll into the next into the next month, and into the next year. Time is fleeting at warp speed. It used to be that only senior citizens thought life was moving to a conclusion too fast. It is kind of like when you get to the end of the roll of paper towels, where the final few sheets coming flying off the cardboard roll, faster than newer paper towels. Nowadays, however, even younger people complain that time is moving too fast…and who can blame them?

There are so many distractions in all our lives that there are not enough hours in the day to pay attention to even, 35% of it all. There are only so many hours in the day to get work, sleep, have family time…as well as do all the things millennials think they have to do be relevant.  Sadly, of the latter, none of it has eternal meaning and/or benefit to those who live like this. We know from practically every survey that most of the last two generations can be classified as NONES – that is, people who have no faith. Even worse, a vast amount of those who do, think you can practice “Cafeteria Christianity”.

Cafeteria Christianity will send a huge population of self-professing “Christians” into outer darkness, where there is eternal separation from God. Because of horrible preaching, teaching, discipleship of the Post World War II generations and the Baby Boomers, the glide path to perdition was opened up wide for the destruction of the generations we see today. Scripture, and the Holy Spirit Who guides all who are redeemed, DAILY, is more than extremely clear.

Consider the following facts:
  • We are created in the image of God.
  • We were built for eternity and relationship with God.
  • Adam and Eve forgot that God says they will “surely die”, and brought sin into the world.
  • Because of sin, our life-spans are shortened.
  • God knew us not just before He formed us in our mothers’ wombs, but before the foundation of the world.
  • We were appointed to be born into the family, location and time period by God, Who then decides how long we live on this planet.
  • We can be as healthy and strong as an ox, like Moses was at 120, but when God is it is time, it is time!
  • Our lives can be full of beauty and good deeds, and just a joy to others. In the affluent western world, and especially in the younger generations who were not taught Godly values and morals, they think this is supposed to last forever with no pain, suffering or hard times.
  • Reality is real. This means accidents will happen. Tragedies will claim the very young and even vulnerable. Nothing but the present is promised.
  • God will bring all actions and beliefs into judgment. (Ecclesiastes 12:12-14) Remember the Lord in the days of your youth because most times, there is no time for death-bed conversions.
  • When we were young, we wanted to be older. Now we are older, we wish we could be young again. Therefore, begin with the End in mind, because the End is within view.
  • It is appointed for man to die once, and then the Judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

God knows everything about us. If a person has a real relationship with Abba Father through Christ, you know exactly that of which I speak. He created us, no matter what the pagans of the world teach or believe. He knows us intimately – when we hurt and when trouble (or good things) are heading our way. He prepares us for these things if we would only listen and pay attention.   This is the essence of these three verses from Psalm 103 (14-16).

We are as easily disposable as the “grass of the field” or the beautiful flowers therein.  If this only sounds like poetry, then look at your own backyard or front lawn. The grass can be beautiful and green after the Spring rains and in the summer. But look at it when the drought hits or when the Fall and Winter deprives it of the ability to grow. Then, ignore the dandelions and weeks and then look at it. Even after it is cut, it soon becomes unruly. This is the metaphor for us. If we do not remain on the alert as Christ warns us, or stay close to the Flame by daily repentance, reading or worshipping through the Word or prayer, we too will be like the chaff, which the winds driveth away.

The entire point of examining the Word of the Lord so in-depth, on this site, is to discern the Mind of God and how He wants us to live. He has told us right here about the fleeting nature of our lives. Let us them make them count, to the beauty and glory of His Name and for the benefit of others. This way, we will enter Eternity and Life in the Presence of God, with peace, joy, and contentment, in Jesus Strong Name, Amen.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

PSALM 103 VERSE 13 - "GREAT IS HIS FAITHFULNESS"


Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him (Psalm 103:13).
There is an amazing passage in the Book of Lamentations of all places, which demonstrates the absolute and wonderful compassion of our Heavenly Father. The Lord had just sent the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and his fearsome troops to not just sack Jerusalem but to cleanse it of evil pagan idolatry first allowed there by the great King Solomon.  In God’s Kingdom, the only way to purify anything – a place or a human, is to destroy and rebuild. In the case of human beings, we must die completely to ourselves and then be born-again into the family of God.

Jerusalem was in complete devastation. There was rubble and smoking ruins all over the destroyed city which had ignored years and years of prophetic pleadings by the weeping prophet Jeremiah, who was sent by God to beg the kings and the citizens to repent and turn from idolatry. They all ignored Jeremiah and even worse, they persecuted him.

The prophet Jeremiah then wrote the Book of Lamentations, which was his heartbreaking, heartfelt cry about his beloved city. Yet, right in the middle of tears and more tears is this beautiful acknowledgment of the love, mercy and sweet compassion of the Lord. It is such a powerful statement, a timeless statement that it became one of the greatest songs of the Christian Faith. From Lamentations 3:22-24, we read "The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulnessThe LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."

You see, as Verse 14 says (next post), the Lord knows He created out of nothing – dust – to be precise and without Him as our Sustainer and Provider, we are completely done.  He knows how weak and frail the human body is, so He built in systems in our DNA and physical make-up, certain restorative mechanisms which bring healing and such, even when we abuse our bodies by things like over-eating or not enough rest.  The Lord knows EVERY single detail of our live – spiritual, emotional and physical. We already know nothing is hidden from Him.

What distinguishes us from the majority of mankind, who is lost and off the rails, is positional.  Our position in Christ, our identity in Christ, our eternal destiny in Christ are all founded in our redemption through Christ. We are born again out of many factors, one of which is a healthy respect, awe, reverence, and Fear of the Lord. While the Lord has pity on all people and provides for all mankind, regardless of political and religious rebellion against Him,  His Eyes are on those who are loyal and faithful to Him. His Eyes are on those who are born-again and true disciples of His Son, Jesus the Christ. Scripture tells us this in 2 Chronicles 16:9a "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His"

To us, His children who fear, adore, obey, commit to and love Him, His greatest compassion are to us.  This is why the Bible tells us in Psalm 116:15 that “Precious in the Eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints”.

What a loving Father. Not many were fortunate to have a father present, alive or if at home, who did the best he could. What all of us who are Christians do have, however, is the Same Father in Heaven, Who is perfect in every way….and Whose mercy and compassion endureth forever.
Amen

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

PSALM 103 VERSES 11 AND 12: "I AM FREE"

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.  As far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:11-12
The sheer vastness and magnificence of the Universe hide the incredible depth and dimensions of its size.  There is no scientist of super-computer around that can begin to measure the galaxies, systems and more of God’s Creation.  As finite human beings, we need to come to terms with the sheer puniness of our being and the magnificent God Who created us.

He is a multi-dimensional God. He is always thinking and working and moving at all times. He existed BEFORE the Creation of the Earth, as recorded in Genesis and Job 38-41. There is no way to fathom Eternity Past. The only point of reference we, who are alive today have, is now.  This is a momentary blip in time. Read the entire book of Ecclesiastes to see just who insignificant this modern age is, in comparison to God’s Kingdom. Yet, to each of us, it is the most consequential “blip” there is!

Psalm 103, verses 11 and 12 are great examples of the length, breadth, height, and width of God’s love. His love and grace cannot be measured. In the very distant past, a rebel named Nimrod tried to reach Heaven by building a huge Tower.  That Tower could never even get close to getting out of the Earth’s atmosphere, far less reach into out of space. It is the tallest structure ever built. There is absolutely no way we can reach the top of the skies even if all the scientists and mathematicians of the world united in this one mission. This is how wide, in theory, and practice, God in His Mercy and love is for us!

These are not mere words to attempt to sound wise, holy or both! This is a fact. God’s “loving kindness” is both His pure love and mercy towards us. However, please NOTE the qualifier! Verse 11, again speaks of the unfathomable mercy of God….TO THOSE WHO FEAR HIM!  Correct -  This FEAR OF THE LORD comes from a healthy love, respect and awe, along with obedience TO Him because of Who He is. Instead, what we see today, more and more is those who are considered the “wise” in this world, lack any Fear of God, whatsoever.

Please be assured of this – if you fear God, keep His commands and walk daily with Him, His love for you and what He can, will and wants to do for us through the entire rest of our natural lives – knows no bounds.

In fact, He takes our transgressions – the second level of horrible sins – and throws them across the sea of forgetfulness far away from us and His sight. Horizontally, He addresses the junction of our interpersonal and divine relationships through forgiveness and His vertical Divine Grace and Love – BECAUSE WE FEAR HIM.

This is the primary benefit of the Christian. Only our sins are forgiven and we are shown grace.  By the very act of accepting the finished work on the Cross, and surrendering to Jesus Christ as Lord and Master and Savior of our lives, we have shown the necessary  “Fear of the Lord”, which is the beginning of wisdom. We are thus, the truly wise on this planet. (Repentance is both implicit and explicit in this entire process). 

Do not be too blasé about the removal of sins far away from us. For an example, if we are forgiven the sins of alcohol abuse or lust of the eyes, we are forgiven. However, if we go dragging up the past by "remembering the good ol' days" while talking with friends or even giving a testimony, the accuser will throw your past back up into your face. He will then make you question if God really forgives you. Do NOT let that rest. Rebuke this accusation and thought and remember that he (us) whom the Son (Jesus) sets free, IS FREE INDEED! So, stay free. Leave your sins where God cast them. He threw them to the other side of the sea, forgot them and so should you! We are to rest in the position of Victory in Jesus through the forgiveness, the permanent forgiveness, of our sins. Amen.

This is the place where we desire to be, and where we will abide all the days of our lives. The ungodly are not so but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. We were like the latter before we became the former. What an amazing blessing this is! 



Sunday, February 11, 2018

PSALM 103: VERSES 9 AND 10: "THE GOD OF PEACE"

He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:9-10)
Striving has the connotation of contention. Contention is almost like an agitated action – mostly verbal – which brings unpleasantness and lack of positive results to a situation.  So many people try to beat themselves up when the slightest thing goes wrong and then end up blaming God. If things are not immediately self-corrected. This is The opposite of how God operates.

It is actually not surprising that the natural human reaction is antithetical to the magnificent attribute of God, Who is already bent towards love and forgiveness.  We kick and fuss and cuss and even worse -blame God, when God is saying “chill out! I am here, what are you going on about?”.  Psalm 46:10 says “Cease striving and know that I am God”.

The striving God is talking about here is the same as “come on, man, relax. I am God and there is no other”.  There is no better example than the Book of Job chapter 38 through chapter 41. For most of the Book of Job, Job rambled and rambled and said all sorts of incorrect things about God. If there is one big mistake any believer can make is to either appropriate God unto your own natural self-created paradigm and say: “God told me to do this” or to start putting your own words in God’s Mouth. God responded with rapid-fire, almost machine-gun like questioning of Job about his knowledge of the ways of God.

God did not contend with Job. He let Job and his friends go on and on and on for what had to be almost two years, in error, before finally put a stop to it. God did not strive or contend with all this foolishness. If you read the Book of Job from chapters 2 through 37, it would amaze you that God did not put a stop to it. But He did not strive with Job and his friends. The Lord does not strive or contend with us either.

For this we need to be absolutely grateful.  We live in the continuing Age of Grace. This is a preset period of time, maybe 2100 years or so where God has appointed His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross of Himself, as the ONLY way to reconciliation with Him.  We know, from reading all through the bible that He desires none to perish and go to hell. However, most do not take Him up on His free offer of salvation through grace and faith in Christ. This does not deter The Trinity of Heaven. There will not be a Return of Christ until the Gospel is preached to every corner of the earth.

He will not keep His Anger forever and it will be forever gone in the Eternal Kingdom. This is after the 1000 year reign of Christ in Jerusalem and after the final Judgment at the Great White Throne of God. In the meantime, let us keep pointing many to Christ, while there is still time….while we are still in the Age of Grace.  This Age of Grace literally means what we see in Psalm 103:10 - God has not dealt with us according to our sins!

We would not be able to stand ANYWHERE, far less stand before God, if we were judged daily for not just our sins but some really bad stuff Christians do!  We violate God’s law almost all the time. We do not do so daily, but far too regularly and if God were to give us what we deserved for the lust of the eyes, ears, flesh or for disobedience. We would be done for on this earth. But He loves us so much and knows our weaknesses, yet all He requires is we study His Word, become cleansed by it and therefore, become more like His Son, Jesus. These sins we commit, whether it is momentary lust of the senses to full-blown sin before God like extra-marital affairs or cheating on taxes (iniquities – the worse kinds of sins); are forgiven and wiped away if there is true genuine Repentance and an end to the flouting of God’s laws and precepts.

The key is staying and walking close to the Lord; living a repentant lifestyle and not allowing ourselves to be drawn away from Him by the tempting shiny objects and people of this world. He is the God of Peace - Shalom. This Peace is more than an assurance of our Salvation. It is the absence of conflict with our Creator as He makes us more Christ-like, if we are willing.


Saturday, February 10, 2018

PSALM 103 VERSE 8 - "I AM A FRIEND OF GOD"

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy (Psalm 103:8)
We are given more about all the various attributes, qualities and characteristics of our Heavenly Father in the official prayer book of the Bible – the Psalms than anywhere else in Scripture. Just in the first few verses of this twenty-two verse Psalm, we find so many different blessings to praise God for, it is incredible.  One praise builds on another praise. 

This verse 8, of Psalm 103, though, shows us why God would even put up with people like us, and how we used to live. In fact, some people live close to how they lived BC (before Christ) so much, that you are excused if you and I wonder if they are even saved!


What sort of God would pick a double-crossing, greedy and lustful man to lead His Chosen people (Jacob, who became Israel)?
What kind of God would take a little teenage shepherd boy, make him King, then watch him steal a man’s wife then kill said man (King David)? Then his former shepherd boy repents and not only is he forgiven, but he is restored in right standing before God.
What manner of Divine Being would allow a self-righteous (but brilliant) religious extremist to persecute and kill Christians, then knock him off his horse as he is going to another city to do even worse and makes him the author of over half the New Testament (Apostle Paul)?
What kind of God would look at people like you and me, vile in our sinful life, living amazingly wretched lives, then, would pull us out of the fire, clean us up and set us free?  I will tell you what Kind of God would do all of this – our Father Who art in Heaven! Hallowed, glorious, mighty, worthy and awesome is His Name!! AMEN!

He is the God Who is Merciful, is Who He is. Mercy came running and grabbed us, His prodigal sons and daughters and drew us to Himself.  Mercy means God has the absolute power, potential, and capacity to just annihilate us and who can blame Him? But because of the love, compassion, and forgiveness, He has in His heart – He sent Jesus Christ, God the Son, to be the acceptable sacrifice for our sins. Once we accept Jesus Christ, His finished work on the Cross, and allow Him to be Lord of our lives, God the Father sees us through His eyes. THAT is Mercy. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His mercy endures forever.

He is the God Who is Gracious. That means He is kind, benevolent, charitable, considerate, civil, amiable and just all around nice. In short, God is a gentleman. Through the study of the Word and prayer, we are directed by the Holy Spirit to what we need to do or how we should live. If we chose to not do these things, God will not force us to do them. Sure, it would be better if He did as things will get done,  but we have a certain amount of free will to avail ourselves of His grace and goodness. If we decline, for whatever reason, it is on us. If we run with what He says, the joy and the rewards are incredibly fulfilling.

He is the God Who is slow to anger. Thank You, Lord, for this Truth! Unlike those who follow pagan and other non-existent gods, we have a Heavenly Father Who forgives and the bible says, forgets.  If God were to get angry every time we did something inappropriate, and fly off the handle to smack us down as we deserve, we will be in a constant state of punishment and pain. But He is not so. There is coming a day when all humanity who reject God will be punished forever in a place called Hell, but that is of their own choosing. We may not see the recompense of the wicked in our lifetime. On that, we should NOT focus. What the Bible is teaching us, via the Psalms and Proverbs, is our Father is patient, loving and kind with us, even when we deserve none of it. Many times in Scripture God shows how angry and upset with the vile nature of sin and rebellion He really and truly is. Then in the very next breath (and sentence) He would say “return to Me, declares the Lord”….or “come let us REASON together as men, though your sins be scarlet…..” Do you know any other God? If you do, you have no part in the God Who forgives, loves and is full of kindness.

He abounds in mercy. His love knows no end and His Grace is for a lifetime.  Abraham believed God. He is called a friend of God. This is the very same God Who know stands at the door and knocks and opens His Mighty and protective Arms to all. He is my God. He is my King – today, He can be yours as well...and the Best Friend you will ever have! Amen.
Song- I am a friend of God