Sunday, September 25, 2016

something greater than Solomon is here

The Word for today:
Psalm 110
mark this: Psalm 110:1 --
The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."
My favorite chapter in the Bible is Luke 24. Because that's when scripture's greatest prophet teaches prophecy:
Two disciples, disheartened over Jesus' death and confused over reports of his resurrection, were walking down the road to Emmaus, a little village not too far from Jerusalem.
When suddenly a "stranger" drew near and walked beside them. (It was Jesus himself, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.) Then the stranger proceeded to teach the greatest Bible lesson ever taught, to a class of two students. What he taught them was this:
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)
It wasn't the first time that Jesus had taught this lesson:
You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! (John 5:39)
If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. (John 5:46)
The Bible isn't just about Jesus. The Bible is Jesus. Or, to say it another way,  Jesus is the embodiment of scripture:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:1, 14)
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17)
***
A sample of Jesus' teaching on the road to Emmaus is given when Jesus quotes Psalm 110:
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." He said to them, "How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet'? If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?" And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:41-46)
It's a trick question which forces the Pharisees to face the inescapable truth: The only way for one person to be both David's son and David's Lord is to be both the Son of David and the Son of God.
So Psalm 110 couldn't be pointing to David's immediate son, Solomon. It was pointing to someone greater. Jesus had already provided that hint:
Behold, something greater than Solomon is here. (Matthew 12:42)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday, September 24, 2016

"holier than God"

The Word for today:
Psalm 109
Note: The imprecatory Psalms (Psalms 35: 52; 55; 58; 59; 79; 109; 137) are cries to God to avenge.  Today, Stand in the Rain will discuss the biblical precept that the moral nature of God will (indeed, must) confront evil. It is helpful in discussions of the nature of God to remember that his name--YHWH (rendered LORD in your Bible)--means I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14). God's actions are consistent with his character. He lives up to no external standard, for his character IS what the moral standard IS.
Today's discussion is for mature audiences only. The enactment of the nature of God--the I AM being what he is--is often a fearsome sight to human eyes.
***
You've heard of those who think they are "holier-than-thou."
But for many, holier-than-thou is not enough. They think they're holier than God.
People holier-than-thou don't like the way I talk.  People holier-than-God don't like the way God talks.  They insist that some Psalms, like Psalm 109, shouldn't be in the Bible. They call them imprecatory Psalms, insinuating that by the time Jesus comes around, God had grown up to the point where he would never write something like Psalm 109 in his book.
Imprecatory Psalms call for vengeance against evil enemies. The New Testament's teaching on vengeance is that we should not take it into our own hands:
Beloved, never avenge yourselves... (Romans 12:19a)
But wait, there's more to that verse. The reason we shouldn't take vengeance into our own hands is because it is left to the hand of God:
...but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."  (Romans 12:19b)
The reason we are not to take vengeance lies in the fact that we are not to judge.  The reason we are not to judge lies in the fact that we are not always capable of making the right judgment.
The reason we are not always capable of making the right judgment lies in the fact that we don't have all the facts that need to be weighed.
But God has all the facts. Which makes him capable of just judgment.
All-powerful and capable of determining true justice, God is culpable (negligent) if he doesn't enact (enforce) justice.
Vengeance, when it is enacted by God, is a facet--a side--of justice. It is the side of justice that evil is owed:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord ( Romans 6:23).
We must take the time to turn that over in our politically correct, holier-than-God minds. For if we do not, we go further than the denial of a few imprecatory Psalms.
If vengeance is not an expression of justice, then what, pray tell, was going on at the cross of Jesus Christ:
But it was the LORD's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. (Isaiah 53:10-11)
If vengeance is not an expression of justice, then we must conclude that what the Father did to the Son at the cross was evil.
Which leaves us holier than God.
So go ahead.  You tell Him first.  I'll wait for you here.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, September 23, 2016

Satan was forced to punt

The Word for today:
Psalm 108
mark this: Psalm 108:13 --
Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.
I got a kick out of watching the career of Tim Tebow, the great quarterback who twice led the University of Florida to the national collegiate championship.
Many say that Tebow was the greatest college football player ever. I don't know about all of that, but I can say with authority that he was the greatest college player I ever watched.
I can say it with such authority because Tebow is the only college football player I ever tuned in to watch.
It all started when I heard about this quarterback in Florida who painted Bible verses under his eyes. I was intrigued.
The first time I saw him play, he wore "Phil. 4:13" painted in his school colors--orange and blue--just under his eyes where athletes apply blacking to reduce the glare of sun and lights. That, of course, is shorthand for this:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
So, right away, I know I'm watching a brother. And, brother, could that brother play!
***
Psalm 108 is David's prayer as he enters into battle. The last line is David's version of Philippians 4:13:
Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies. (Psalms 108:13)
Though scripture doesn't recommend wearing Bible verses as warpaint, it comes close:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
The best place to write God's Word--even better than under your eyes or on your doorposts--is in the recesses of the heart:
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalms 119:11)
That's where Jesus stored God's Word when he entered into the great Battle in the Wilderness (1), where Satan tempted him to sin. It wasn't just Satan vs. Jesus that day; it was also the word of the world vs. the Word of God.
Three verses into the battle, gaining no ground, Satan was forced to punt.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) Matthew 4:1-11

Thursday, September 22, 2016

the winds and the waves don't believe me

The Word for today:
Psalm 107:33-43
mark this: Psalm 107:29 --
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
We hear the word sovereign a lot. Kings, throughout history, have claimed to be sovereign. Closer to home, Indian tribes dispute taxation by claiming to be sovereign.
To be sovereign means to be in charge, in command, in control. Ultimately, there is only one Sovereign. We meet him here today:
He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
***
Scholars search the scriptures, trying to ascertain when and where Jesus said he is God. Their questions limit them, because it isn't a matter of When? And it isn't a matter of Where? The question should be How?--
How did Jesus pronounce and confirm that he is God? He did it by demonstrating his ultimate sovereignty over creation:
Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" (Matthew 8:23-27)
The disciples knew from scripture that God could calm the seas by his word alone. We read it today in Psalm 107:24-30.
Likewise, Psalm 65:7 refers to God as the one who stilled the roaring of the the seas, the roaring of their waves. God's sovereign power over the seas is also displayed in Psalm 89:9; Psalm 104:7; and Psalm 106:9.
Waters flow and cease to flow at God's command. Thus the disciples understood that Jesus must be the Creator, God. Their newfound understanding of Jesus became the unified testimony of the New Testament:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (Revelation 4:11)
There were times when Jesus verbally declared that he is God (1). But better than that are the numerous times when Jesus demonstrates that he is God (2).
Because even I can say that I am God.  But the winds and the waves don't believe me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) John 10:30-10:33; John 8:58; (2) an intentional demonstration of Jesus' deity is seen in Mark 2:6-12

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Let the redeemed say so!


The Word for today:
Psalm 107:1-32
mark this: Psalm 107:2 --
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.
I love Joan.
Joan's this clown at our church.  Let me back up and start over again. Joan is a lady in our church who is a clown. I kid you not--a real clown with a big red nose and way-big shoes. She--as "Dr. Bubbles"--performs at birthday parties and other kids' events.  As she does, she always manages to work a gospel message into the routine.
So I consider her a kindred spirit, and I kid her about it: "We're fools for Christ's sake (1), Joanie!"
"Maybe you are, Franklyn. But I'm a clown for Christ's sake!"
Joanie isn't just a great clown. She's also a world-class giver. She gave me a book on the Apostle Paul, for my studies. She gave me four huge full-color maps of Bible lands, for my Bible classes. She gave me a blue suede Buffalo Bills Stetson hat with a red feather, for the heck of it. (You read that right: a Buffalo Bills blue suede Stetson hat adorned with a red feather!) But best of all she gave me "The Christmas Bell."
I put my Christmas Bell in my Bible, right here at Psalm 107:2, where it says "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so."
Redeemed is a big Bible word which implies a purchase. The price was paid by Jesus:

You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold, but with precious blood of Christ. (2)
The price he paid purchased all the presents on the Christmas Bell. So whenever I get sad, or afraid, or discouraged, I go right to the Bell and do what Psalm 107:2 tells me to do--I say it right out loud:
THE CHRISTMAS BELL
I KNOW WHO I AM
I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil 3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21-22 )
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28 )
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1). I am God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected. (Phil. 1: 5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven ( Col 1:14). I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)
I belong to God
Do you know
Who you are!

I hope you print the Bell and place it in your Bible, too. And I hope that, now and then, you "ring" it right out loud. Dr. Bubbles said it will always make you feel better, even on the days when the world knocks you down, or steps on your face, or slanders your name all over the place--or makes fun of your blue suede hat.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(1) 1 Corinthians 4:10; (2) see 1 Peter 1:18-19

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Are we related?

The Word for today:
1 Chronicles 29
Scripture unfolds progressively. It is always on the move.
There is faith on page 1 of your Bible, but as the pages turn, faith builds upon faith:
The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.  (Romans 1:17)
There is glory on page 1 of your Bible, but as the pages turn, glory builds upon glory:
We are being transformed from glory to glory.  (2 Corinthians 3:18)
There is relationship with God in the Old Testament, but as the pages turn, an ever closer relationship is revealed --
David called God the Father of Israel:
Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.  (1 Chronicles 29:10/NKJV)
But David never addresses God as his personal father. In the Old Testament, God was not called the father of individuals.
That's because God isn't your father until you know his son. Only faith in Jesus Christ makes a son:
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:11-13)
In the present realm, we are related through our fathers to our brothers. In the Kingdom of God, we are related through our Brother to our Father,
or we aren't related to "our" Father at all. There is no universal fatherhood because there is no universal brotherhood.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, September 19, 2016

When God Says No


(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: 1 Chronicles 28
mark this: 1 Chronicle 28:3 --
But God said to me, `You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.'
(For further study, read the parallel passage in 2 Samuel 7)
What a minute?
I thought this was a no-brainer.
Here's David's resume so far:
- Anointed by Samuel (1)
CHECK
- Defeated Goliath (2)
CHECK
- Refuses to kill Saul (3)
CHECK
- Becomes King of Judah (4)
CHECK
- Ends civil war & becomes King of all Israel (5)
CHECK
- Conquers Jerusalem (6)
CHECK
- Establishes peace in Israel (7)
CHECK
Okay- so the logical next step in this sequence is for David to build a resting place for the Ark, a place more permanent for the worship of the LORD.
David finally has the political stability, the financial resources, the right location, the popular support, and most importantly, the heart to do this.
Even the prophet Nathan agrees- saying "Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you." (8)
But wait just a minute- this is NOT what God has in mind, and He makes that clear to David through Nathan. Even though David demonstrates sound reasoning, great motives, and amazing commitment- even though this idea seems to be perfect, God gives it a red light.
The explanation is there, but its brief. There is no room for interpretation, just a flat out no.
Has that ever happened to you?
You had a brilliant idea for your life, your family, your ministry, or your church.
You had all your ducks lined up.
You were 100% committed.
It seemed so perfect that it had to work.
But then, for little or no apparent reason, God simply closes the door.
That is a hard pill to swallow. In fact, very often it can lead to more disappointment with God than even suffering or tragedy would. I think that anyone who has walked with God for any length of time has experienced that sense of disillusionment- the question then becomes, what am I going to do about it?
David certainly knew God's favor, but he also had more than his share of suffering, delay, and disappointment. I am sure that David was a bit stung by God's words here. But look at his attitude. There is no bitterness, no threats to cut off funding, no "If that's the way you want it, you can take this temple and shove it...." Instead, we see David do everything he can to make sure his son Solomon succeeds in the building of the Temple. He commissions, provides resources, opens up his personal treasury, contributes the blue-prints and challenges & encourages Solomon to "be strong & courageous." (9)
My oh my, do we have a lot to learn from David. Do I have a lot to learn as well. The choice is- do I seek to become a petty dictator of my own little corner of the world, or do I listen instead to God and trust Him enough to tell me "No" even when I don't understand?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) 1 Sam 16:13
(2) 1 Sa. 17:49
(3) 1 Sa. 24:10
(4) 2 Sa. 2:4
(5) 2 Sa. 5:3
(6) 2 Sa 5:7
(7) 2 Sa 7:1
(8) 2 Sa. 7:3
(9) 1 Chr. 28:20