Monday, August 31, 2015

forgiven, forgotten

The Word for today: 
2 Samuel 13:38 -- 14:33
mark this: 2 Samuel 14:13-14--
The woman said, "Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son?
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.
Absalom seems to have been David's favorite son. He was more like David than any of his other sons. David probably intended that Absalom succeed him as king. When Absalom fled Israel after he had killed his half-brother (as revenge for the rape of Absalom's sister) David longed to bring him back. He mourned for him and wished for his return. But he did not offer Absalom his total forgiveness.
God's forgiveness is absolute, unconditional, total:
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us (1).
When we have confessed our sins to God, they are forgiven and forgotten (2)--
"Father, please forgive me. I've messed up again."
"Again? I don't recall what you're talking about."
David was a man who sinned greatly, yet he was forgiven completely. (Because of another irrevocable principle--the law of sowing and reaping--the consequences of our sin continue to crop up, but our Father has forgotten them completely.) But now David cannot completely forgive his son.
Although a reconciliation was made, it was a reluctant reconciliation on David's part. The fact that David did not give Absalom wholehearted forgiveness rankles in Absalom's soul, and sets the stage for the rebellion, war, and death to follow.
Someone has said that "Unforgiveness is the poison we drink hoping someone else will die." Just so, David's unforgiveness turns on him and begins the disintegration of his kingdom.
We are the most forgiven people in the world. We should be the most forgiving. Forgiveness should be the hallmark of a Christian:
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you (3).
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(1) Psalm 103:12; (2) Jeremiah 31:34 & Hebrews 10:17: (3) Ephesians 4:32

Sunday, August 30, 2015

"You are the man"-- the Word of God is addressed to you

The Word for today: 
2 Samuel 12:1 -- 13:37
mark this: 2 Samuel 12:1-13
The prophet Nathan brings the Word of the LORD to David. He teaches David through a parable--about a rich man, and a poor man with but one little ewe lamb. The parable is reminiscent of the teaching method of the great Prophet and Teacher to come--Himself a solitary Lamb who will, like the lamb in Nathan's parable, die because of the sins of others.
The parable is devastatingly effective. The Bible student should read it carefully and take it to heart; the Word of the LORD isn't addressed to the other guy. It is addressed to you. It exposes David's sin and his hypocrisy, just as the parables of Jesus will expose my sin and hypocrisy, just as they will expose yours.
Nathan's story, the parables of Jesus, and the entire Word of God reveal David, and you and me, as though we were looking in a mirror. It is a mirror that reveals us as we really are:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (1).
Life is not complicated for the follower of Jesus Christ. Just look in "the mirror" every day. Do what it says.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) James 1:22-24

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Our Father--faithful to discipline His children

The Word for today: 
2 Samuel 10:1 -- 11:27
mark this: 2 Samuel 11:27--
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
David is the Bible's example of a man after God's own heart (1). He loved the LORD with everything he had: all that was within him blessed God's holy name (2).
But in a time of restlessness born of inactivity and comfort in his sumptuous new palace...
It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem (3).
David and Israel were at the peak of their powers . All was going well. This man who had lived in the caves and on the front lines was now living in ease and comfort. His guard was down.
From the roof of his palace, seeing beautiful Bathsheba bathing, he sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her; and she returned to her house (4).
Trying to cover-up what he had done, he conspired to have Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba's brave and loyal husband, killed during battle. Thus his sin had compounded itself.
Sin was the exception in David's life--not the pattern of it. But be sure that, as our loving Father, God is faithful to discipline his children. God will not let his child get by with sin. The thing that David had done displeased the LORD; therefore the LORD took David "to the woodshed."
When David slipped into sin, God put the lash on his back and never took it off. If you are a child of God and do these things, God will chasten you; He will take you to the woodshed right here and now.
If God doesn’t chasten you, you are in a frightful condition (5). If God doesn't discipline you, it means you are not His child, because God does not spank the Devil’s children.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22; (2) Psalm 103:1 (3) 2 Samuel 11:1; (4) 2 Samuel 11:4: (5) Hebrews 12:8

Friday, August 28, 2015

Look, Ma -- I'm in the Bible!

The Word for today: 
2 Samuel 8:1 -- 9 :13
mark this: 2 Samuel 9:3-7
Mephibosheth.
The Bible is the Story of Jesus Christ, from front to finish. But every once in a while, you appear in its pages.
Say what??!
Mephibosheth is you. Mephibosheth is me. Mephibosheth is the sinner, spared for the sake of another, with all the riches of the kingdom restored to him because of the sheer grace of the king. That's you, me, and any person who has ever received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Mephibosheth is the son of Jonathan and the grandson of Saul. When Saul and Jonathan had been killed in the same battle, a little son of Jonathan’s was hidden lest David's forces find him and kill him:
Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son who was lame in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel; and his nurse took him up and fled. And it happened, as she made haste to flee, that he fell and became lame. His name was Mephibosheth (1).
According to the code of that day, David's men would have been justified in putting to death any of the offspring of Saul, for anyone in the previous line of succession was a potential threat to David's position as king. So when Mephibosheth is brought before David, he falls on his face before him, expecting to be executed. Instead, David speaks kindly to him , calling him by name. Then David restores his inheritance to him and gives him a permanent place at the king’s table—honoring him as one of his own sons!
The parallels between Mephibosheth and those who are saved through Christ are helpful to remember:
1. A child of God recognizes that he is a cripple in God's sight.
The feet and the condition of our souls are closely aligned in scripture. Our feet go astray (2), our feet slip (3), our "walk" wanders from the path (4).
2. David extended kindness to Mephibosheth for the sake of another--for the sake of Jonathan.
In the very same way, we are forgiven and restored for Jesus' sake--through his blood shed at the cross for us, and through the power of his resurrection.
Sometimes we do "appear" in the Bible. But be very careful about "reading yourself into scripture." Many see themselves in David; they are going to do great things for God.
Rather, we should see ourselves in Mephibosheth...
because we don't do great things for the King. The King does great things for us.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) 2 Samuel 4:4; (2) see Isaiah 53:6; (3) Psalm 73:2; Psalm 116:8; (4) see Proverbs 16:25

Thursday, August 27, 2015

'twas the night before Christmas

The Word for today: 
2 Samuel 7
mark this: 2 Samuel 7:12-17
If your Bible has one of those neat old-time ribbon markers and you're not using it much, consider lodging it permanently at 2 Samuel chapter 7.
The Bible rounds third and heads for home at 2 Samuel 7, because here God promises that one of David's descendants will reign forever.
All the prophets from this point forward will make this promised King, and his Kingdom, their theme song. Scrupulously kept genealogies will record every birth in the dynastic line...
until, one thousand years after David...
an industrious carpenter from the line of David's son Solomon, and his teenage bride from the line of David's son Nathan...
went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child (1).
That child is the focal point of scripture and of history. Second Samuel 7 casts a laser beam which cuts through the Bible straight into a stable in Bethlehem...
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn...
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (2).
Think of 2 Samuel 7 as Christmas Eve: all promise and gathering excitement; anticipation, and eager awaiting. That's exactly what the covenant with David is: God's promise to David of the greatest gift of all.
In Biblical, timeless terms, 2 Samuel 7 is the night before Christmas.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) Luke 2:4-5; (2) Luke 2:6-7, 9-11

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

the Ark of the Covenant returns

The Word for today: 
2 Samuel 5:17 -- 6:23
mark this: 2 Samuel 6:2 --
And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Ba'ale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim.
The ark was just a box--made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold inside and out.
The ark denoted the presence of God. But it became a hindrance to Israel because they looked upon it in a superstitious way. They thought there was some merit in that box, and there was not. It was just a symbol, a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was made of gold, which speaks of his deity; and of wood, which speaks of his humanity. It was not two boxes; it was one box. It was a wooden box; it was a gold box. It was both.
As such, it was a marvelously simple example of the complex theological idea of Christ's "hypostatical union." Hypostatical union means that Jesus was the God-man: very man of very man, and very God of very God. It was a wooden box. It was a gold box.
The ark was constructed with rings in the four corners. Poles were placed through these rings, and the ark was to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites, the tribe of priests. (1)
In just such a way God wants the gospel of Jesus Christ to be brought to the world today. God does not write the gospel in the skies. Jesus Christ has to be carried through this world on the shoulders of those who are his own.
You and I, God's redeemed children--his own, purchased at the price of the blood of Jesus Christ--will carry the Good News of Jesus Christ to a lost world, or it will not go forth at all.
That was God's way then, and it is God's way now.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) Exodus 25:13-15; Numbers 1:51; Numbers 4:15,19; see Joshua 3

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Beautiful for elevation...the city of the great King

The Word for today: 
2 Samuel 4:1 -- 5:16
mark this: 2 Samuel 5:9-10 --
And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built the city round about from the Millo inward.
And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.
Second Samuel 5 describes how David became God's chosen king, how he conquered and claimed Jerusalem as his own and how he ruled over the nation of Israel from the holy city as God had intended.
Jerusalem is built atop a steep hill. The Hinnom Valley on the west and the Kidron Valley on the east join south of the city. This makes Jerusalem an excellent fortress, because these steep valleys provide natural defenses on three sides. And when David conquered the city, he constructed terraces (known as the Millo) on the north end to protect it from attack from that direction. The city also has an excellent water supply from the Gihon spring. Even when under siege Jerusalem can sustain itself for a very long time.
Because of David's military success, and because Jerusalem was his capital city, it became known as the City of David.
But Jerusalem is significant for another reason as well. God himself chose the city as the site for his people to build the temple. Hence Jerusalem became known as the City of God.
Generations later, a King greater than David would make his way up the steep ascent to Jerusalem (1). There, in the last days of his life, he would carry the sin of the world up to a rock outcropping--Golgotha--just outside the city's walls. There he was lifted up (2) on a cross. Three days later, he was raised again to life. Truly, the city is beautiful for elevation:
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised
in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
Beautiful for elevation, the joy of the whole earth,
is mount Zion, on the sides of the north,
the city of the great King. 
(3)
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(1) see Mark 10:33; (2) John 12:32; (3) Psalm 48:1-2

Monday, August 24, 2015

low spiritual IQ

The Word for today: 
2 Samuel 2:1 -- 3:39
mark this: 2 Samuel 3:33--
Died Abner as a fool dies?
These two chapters show the events which led to David's consolidation of Judah (the southern kingdom) and Israel (the northern kingdom) under his rule. Abner, the military leader of the northern kingdom, makes known his intentions to abandon his position and ally himself with David. He was going to help David become king over the twelve tribes.
David is king of Judah in Hebron as these events play themselves out. He will reside there for 7 years.
David is no longer that innocent shepherd boy we met at first. He has spent years in the caves and dens of the earth, hunted like a partridge (1) by Saul's men. He has collected men of war around him. He is rugged and adept at war.
But David's military leader, Joab, gains revenge when he murders Abner outside the gates of Hebron. (During a previous battle, Abner had killed Joab's brother.)
Hebron was a city of refuge where a murderer was safe. In that city, Joab could not have touched him.
King David, hearing of Abner's death, lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dies? (2)
Abner stepped outside the city of refuge, and Joab killed him. He was a fool to leave Hebron.
This is a message for us today. There is a refuge for every sinner in Christ. If we are outside the place of refuge, we are lost.
According to the Bible, no matter what his IQ or his position in life might be, a man is a fool if he does not turn to Jesus Christ, the place of refuge.
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(1) 1 Samuel 26:20; (2) 2 Samuel 3:33

Sunday, August 23, 2015

the Story takes aim--directly at Jesus

The Word for today: 2 Samuel 1
mark this: 2 Samuel 1:27
2 Samuel Introduction:
Saul and Jonathan are dead on Mt. Gilboa. David's grief over their deaths is sincere. His tribute to Jonathan in particular is one of the most striking lamentations in scripture.
David will now begin to reign over the territory of Judah and finally over the entire nation of Israel.
The Bible student should note that 2 Samuel chapter 7 is God's covenant with David. There is no chapter in your Bible which is more important to your understanding of the story of scripture.
2 Samuel chapter 7--the Davidic covenant--will now become the theme song of the prophets. Why? Because God's covenant with David aims the rest of scripture directly at Jesus.
2 Samuel is also the story of a man trying desperately to be a great leader and a holy man, while often sabotaged by his flawed humanity. So while this book will record the highlights of David's reign, it also records David's sins.
Yet David was repentant and always came back to God. Therefore, in spite of his sins, David remained a man after God's own heart: poetic, prophetic, penitent, passionate, and purposeful.
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Saturday, August 22, 2015

in sin's wake

The Word for today: 
Psalm 51
Many, but not all, of the Psalms contain an ascription at the beginning. Don't neglect to read these. They are part of the inspired text of the Bible.
The ascription tells us by whom the Psalm was written--or for whom, to whom, about whom, about what. Carefully noting its ascription before reading a Psalm will often add a level of personality and context.
The saddest ascription introduces Psalm 51:
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
(You can read more about David's sin with Bathsheba and its tragic aftermath, beginning in 2 Samuel 11.)
The sword would never depart (1) from David's life, from his family, or from his nation after this incident. David did not lose his salvation (2), but sin's consequences spun out of control. Murder, rape, incest, treason, and civil war followed in his sin's wake.
Remember that we, as children of God, will never lose the salvation Jesus purchased for us on the cross. But God has not promised that He will hide the reality of sin's consequences from us, nor shield those around us from our sins' effects.
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(1) 2 Samuel 12:10; (2) 2 Samuel 12:13

Friday, August 21, 2015

Period.

The Word for today:
Psalm 50
mark this: Psalm 50:1-6 --
The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest.
He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
"Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!"
The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah.
The New Testament specifically teaches that Jesus will judge mankind:
For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22).
Remember that if you are a child of God through faith in Jesus' sacrifice of Himself for your sins, then your Judge is your Savior, as well.
And know this: if you have not taken your sins to the cross of Jesus Christ, then Jesus is your Judge. Period.
It's just a matter of where you stand, relative to the cross.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Because He lives...

The Word for today: 
Psalm 49
mark this: Psalm 49:15--
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave,
For He shall receive me.
Q. Is this passage about Jesus? Or is it about me?
A. Yes and yes--if you are a child of God through faith in Christ.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Think 'Jesus' first!

The Word for today: 
Psalm 46; Psalm 47; Psalm 48
mark this: Psalm 46:1--
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Train yourself to think 'Jesus' first--whenever you're in trouble.
Whenever you need to escape, think Jesus first. Whenever you need to stand and fight, think Jesus first. Whenever you need shelter from the storm, look to Jesus first.
It is not always easy to look to God first. So train yourself, and someday it will become a habit. Then continue to train yourself--and someday it will become an instinct.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"Messianic Psalms"

The Word for today: 
Psalm 45
mark this: Psalm 45:6-7--
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
The Psalms are brimful of "messianic" pictures--pictures of the Messiah to come.
"Messiah" means "Anointed One." ("Messiah" is the Old Testament form of the word, from the Hebrew language; "Christ" is the New Testament form of the word, from the Greek language.)
"Messiah" / "Christ" is Jesus' title, not his name. Sometimes we hear Jesus referred to as "Christ Jesus." That is actually more in keeping with the way we use titles. (We call David "King David"--not "David King.")
The Old Testament is made up of prophetic pictures of Jesus so people would recognize Him when, one day, He'd be coming down the road. Jesus was marked out by being anointed -- saturated and overflowing -- with the power of the Holy Spirit.
So look for Messianic passages in the Psalms. That's Jesus, coming down the road!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, August 17, 2015

a "life verse"

The Word for today: 
Psalm 44
mark this: Psalm 44:3--
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their own arm save them;
but it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your countenance, for you loved them.
Many people have identified a "life verse"--a passage of scripture which has deep personal meaning for them. I don't have a life verse, but if I did, Psalm 44:3 would be it.
As you go through your Bible, look for those special passages which seem written just for you. Store them in your heart.
*********************

Sunday, August 16, 2015

pour it out

The Word for today: 
Psalm 42 and Psalm 43
mark this: Psalm 42:4--
I pour out my soul...
mark this: Psalm 42:7--
Deep calls unto deep...
The Psalms are to be done--activated--more than they are to be studied.
So do the Psalms. Pray them out loud to God. Attach melody/rhythm and sing/clap them.
Write a psalm. Live the psalms. Pour out your soul.
The Psalms are all-consuming passion and lavish love.
Many authors wrote the Psalms. But far more were written by King David than by any other. You can feel, hear, see, taste, and smell his extravagant love for God in his Psalms.
Develop, like David did, an inordinate love for God. David's love for God was so intense that it embarrassed the people around him.
Don't measure love. Don't make sense of love. Do love.
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Saturday, August 15, 2015

God in pursuit

The Word for today:
Job 42:7-17
(...continued from yesterday's post)
I had heard that the book of Job was a study in patience. Oh dear.
I had heard that the book of Job was about the question of why bad things happen to good people. Oh double dear.
I had heard that the book of Job was about repentance. I was getting closer.
Closer. That's where Job is at the end of the book. The book of Job is about relationship. The book of Job is about love.
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.
Therefore...
Notice that Job repents after he enters into a new comprehension, a new relationship. We don't enter a new relationship because we repent, we repent because we have entered into a new relationship.
The ardent lover in scripture, the pursuer, is God. As our relationship with God deepens, it is God who initiates each new stage. God makes the first move:
We love him, because He first loved us (1).
The revolutionary truth of Christianity is this:
God doesn't save us because we're good. We're good because God saved us.
The revolutionary truth of the book of Job is the same principle:
God doesn't love Job because he repents. Job repents because God loves him.
It's His kindness that leads to repentance, we are taught in the New Testament (2).
Draw me, we will run after you (3), we read in the Song of Solomon. This is the expression of one who is in love with God, who desires a closer relationship with Him. But she realizes that we can't reach that state; we cannot attain to it because it is too high for us. So, "Draw me (first)--then we will run after You."
Consider:
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him (4).
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself (5).
God would move heaven and earth in pursuit of you. Why, He'd even die on a cross, if that's what it took.
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(1) 1 John 4:19; (2) Romans 2:4; (3) Song of Solomon 1:4; (4) John 6:44; (5) John 12:32

Friday, August 14, 2015

Closer.

The Word for today: 
Job 40:6 -- 42:6
mark this:
I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.
 (Job 42:5-6)
Any understanding of the book of Job must arise out of these 2 verses. Job has reached a new comprehension of God. He is in a new relationship.
Repentance at its core is an acknowledgement of the truth.
Here is a sampling of some statements of repentance. Feel free to pray whichever of them fits your situation:
"You are God, and I am not." Praying this prayer of repentance, we enter into a brand new relationship with God.
"I cannot fix this life that I've broken. I tried every way I knew before I decided to try your way. Help me to do it your way this time." Praying this prayer of repentance, we enter into a brand new relationship with God.
"I had You figured. I was sure I could predict your next move. I'm sorry I boxed you in." Praying this prayer of repentance, we enter into a brand new relationship with God.
"I wondered where you were when I needed you. I'm sorry I doubted your heart and intentions." Praying this prayer of repentance, we enter into a brand new relationship with God.
You get the picture. I've prayed all of these and a thousand more. With every prayer of repentance, we open a gift--a brand new relationship with God.
For the child of God, repentance isn't about rules. It's about entering into a deeper trust and a deeper understanding--a deeper relationship with Jesus.
I had heard that the book of Job was a study in patience. Oh dear.
I had heard that the book of Job was about the question of why bad things happen to good people. Oh double dear.
I had heard that the book of Job was about repentance. I was getting closer.
Closer. That's where Job is at the end of the book. The book of Job is about relationship. The book of Job is about love.
(to be continued in tomorrow's post...)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?

The Word for Today: 
Job 38:1 -- 40:5
mark this:
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. (Job 38:4)
mark this:
Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. (Job 40:4)
In the presence of God...
all the trash talk, the loose talk, the balderdash, the BS, the pretense, the put-on, the put-down, the blather, the bravado, the bluster, the filibuster, the psychobabble, the preening, the posturing, the pomposity, the pontification, the clever retort, the witty repartee, the rejoinder, the smokescreen, the whitewash, the innuendo, the bloviation, the bloviator, and the blowhard...
all will silence themselves in abject awe.
In the presence of God, those who haven't experienced the fear of the LORD--which the Bible says is the beginning of wisdom (1)--will gain sudden clarity: like Job, we will lay our hands over our mouths and finally manage to shut up.
The universal experience of those who are in God's presence (2) is to hit the deck in sudden realization of just Who He is--and just who we are, seen in His light. We will never define God, but His mere presence will define us.
Get a head start down the path to wisdom.  Fear the LORD today.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) Proverbs 9:10; (2) See Genesis 17:3; Ezekiel 1:28; Daniel 8:17; Revelation 1:17; et. al.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

a whirlwind is fast approaching

The Word for today: 
Job 36:1 -- 37:24
mark this:
He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach.
 (Job 36:32-33)
Elihu portrays a majestic God, distanced from man's daily concerns.
But God is not distant. Though he is all-powerful and all-knowing, God longs for a close relationship with you and with me. He even became one of us; He lived the life we live, died the death we die--just to annul the separation.
When God seems far away, it is not because he is so high and mighty that he can't relate to us. When God is distant, it's not by His choice. Rather, it is our sins--our choices--which separate us from God:
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear. (1)
Elihu repeatedly refers to the weather--lightning and thunder and rain and wind--as he speaks. A storm was gathering:
His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach.
A whirlwind is fast approaching. It's God's turn to speak.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(1) Isaiah 59:2

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

peel and reveal their empty core

The Word for today:
Job 34:1 to 35:16
mark this:
...he multiplies words without knowledge. (Job 35:16)
There is a lot of multiplication of words without knowledge going on around us.
Our faith is based on the Bible's revelation of Jesus Christ. The Bible has stood firm, unchanging for thousands of years.
Many have tried to take it down, to topple it. Its detractors have come and gone. Not one of them has disproved a thing about scripture.
Scripture's view of man's lost, sinful nature has proven more and more obviously true: just open your newspaper, your internet, your window.
Scripture's prophecies have aligned before our very eyes. The central prophetic vision -- predicting in minutest detail the coming of the Messiah, the Savior from sin -- was exactly fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Billions are devoted to him. He turned time and space and thought upside down.
If anyone (perhaps at school or from your neighborhood) assails you for your faith in Jesus and for reading your Bible, then here's what to do: be like Jesus and ask them a question or two (see note, below). Don't' go on the defensive, but put them on the defensive about what they believe.
Somebody might reply that they believe in nothing. That is a faith. Ask them how that's working out for them. Is it sustaining, inspiring?
Or maybe they say they believe in "science." Point out that God created science--the laws governing the physical universe. Then point out that man's "scientific" theories have changed about as often as the wind has changed direction. What was taken as scientific fact just years ago has proved laughable, embarrassing. "Science" is a moving target, but it's easy to shoot down.
The Bible stands tall, firm, never changing. And still they cannot shoot it down. Scripture, over time, makes monkeys out of its detractors.
Say so, with a calm voice and demeanor. Turn the tables on them. Ask them to prove their beliefs. Peel back the onion, layer by layer. It won't be long before your questioning will reveal an emptiness at the core of their beliefs.
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Note: In the gospel of Matthew alone, Jesus asked over 80 questions. He knew the truth. What he was looking for were their versions of it, in order to set the record straight.

Monday, August 10, 2015

the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth

The Word for today:
Job 32:1 -- 33:33
mark this:
So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.
Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God.
Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.
 (Job 32:1-3)
Throughout the speeches of Job and his three friends, a young man had been intently listening, without speaking. But now, he's heard enough. Enter Elihu.
Elihu is the voice which will come closest to the whole truth of God. Elihu won't get everything right in his reply to Job and the friends, but he comes closer than all of them. He prepares Job for the voice of God to follow.
Job is a tricky book, as has been previously noted, because not all of the thoughts presented are thoughts which God agrees with--and God will soon say so.
But Elihu is the voice which comes closest to the whole truth.
We take an oath before courtroom testimony--to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Why do we have to add "the whole truth." Isn't just "the truth" good enough? The answer is a resounding, "No."
The reason we must read the whole Bible is because unless we do, we can get a picture of Jesus which is out of balance. For example, it is true that He is the forgiving Savior. That's "the truth." But the whole truth is that He is also the Judge of all those who bypass the blood of His cross, and seek to come to God on their own terms.
Whole churches, entire denominations, present "the truth," but do not present the whole truth about Jesus Christ. Job and his three friends say many things which are "the truth"--but not the whole truth.
Be careful to read the entire Bible and decide for yourself whether your pastor, teacher, church, and denomination are presenting "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
If they are not--and even though you, like Elihu, may be young--listen respectfully, then step up and tell them that their picture of Jesus is distorted.
But before you do, you must study scripture--all of scripture. You must pray and serve God and, perhaps, suffer in His service. These are the prerequisites to the comprehension of the whole truth about Jesus.
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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way...

The Word for today: 
Job 30:1 -- 31:40
Here's a summary of Job chapter 31:
"I'm so blameless, my character is so sterling--yet look at all the calamity that has befallen me."
This is where I tire of Job. He justifies himself throughout this section. According to Job, the world would be just fine if only everybody were like him.
The implication is that God can't add 2 + 2 and come up with 4. If only God could see straight...
Don't attempt to justify yourself before God, to tell Him how great thou art--that if only He would move over, you'd steer the universe in the right direction. When you justify yourself, you implicitly blame God for the things that went wrong in your life.
A wonderful Bible word is "contrite." Contrite is the opposite of proud:
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit (1).
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise (2).
For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." (3)
Let contrition mark your demeanor when you interact with God. Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. We do not stand before God on equal terms.
God is listening, and soon He'll tire of Job as well.  Stay tuned.
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(1) Psalm 34:18; (2) Psalm 51:17 (3) Isaiah 57:15