Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The "Word" on the Womb

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  ~Psalm 139:13
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” ~Jeremiah 1:5

Although the number of abortions today indicate our society’s low view of life in the womb, it is an indicator of something far more serious. The “pro-choice” movement and abortion laws reveal our society’s low view of the Creator God Who gives that life. Pastor’s message this last Sunday was both saddening and full of rejoicing. It was sad that so many do not see and recognize God’s creative wonder involved in every human life forming in the womb, yet I was able to rejoice at thinking about how the Almighty was intimately involved in who and what I am.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. ~Psalm 139:13

Not only is God Creator in the universal sense, but He is also our Creator individually. Our individual existence is a personal work and act of God, who does everything with a deliberate purpose and intent. So many miss out on the blessing of knowing God in this way. We should spend time this week meditating on Pastor’s two points from this passage:
  1. Your life was created by God and for God.
  2. Every life is precious to God.
When you recognize and appreciate God’s own loving hand in your creation there should be a desire to respond, but how?

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. ~Psalm 139:14

What can we return for the love that God has shown us, for mercies so great, so undeserved? Does God expect some sort of payment in return for creating us? As a father of many children, I do not expect them to repay me for their existence or all that I have provided nor do I want it. What I do want from them is respect, honor, and love. I don't want these things as payment for what I have done, but as an honest outward expression on their part of our relationship. Our response to the many blessings of God should be to praise Him, glorify His name and to worship Him as creator, provider, and sustainer! Oh yes, and redeemer...

My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. ~Psalm 71:23

After creating us if God should choose to never bless us again, He has already blessed us beyond what we deserve. For those of us who trust in Christ, He has redeemed our souls from the grave by the precious blood of Jesus! There never ought to be a moment or time in our lives when we can't thank God for something. Praise for His creative acts and thanks for what He is yet doing should always be upon our lips. What a wonderful witness for our Savior, when those whom He redeemed offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in the presence of the lost! The lost who are yet blinded by Satan, the desires of this world and their own sin do not and cannot ever see God’s creative work in the womb. Pray for them.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. ~Psalm 139:15,16

God has a plan for His people and it includes life! The lives we now live are not as they were intended to be. Our lives were never meant to be a day to day struggle filled with pain and sorrow. It is our sin that has a death grip on our bodies, constantly afflicting us with sickness and disease. However, the promise from the Almighty is that He Himself would ransom our lives from the grave. He, one day, would redeem us from the power of death and bestow upon us eternal life! The Creator would become the Savior...

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~Titus 2:11-14

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Book That Will Transform You

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  ~Psalm 119:105
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~Hebrews 4:12

The Bible is God’s Book and when you open it up and start reading it will be just a matter of time before a verse or a passage will grab your attention and speak to you right where you're at. The Holy Spirit uses the Bible to reveal the thoughts and intentions of our hearts and as we read, it will become apparent which of our thoughts are godly and which are of the flesh. We will soon recognize which motives are inspired by the Holy Spirit and which come from our own desires. The Bible is indeed God’s Book and as Pastor pointed out this past Sunday, there are some things we should understand about it:
  • The Bible has a beating heart.
  • The Bible has transforming power.
  • The Bible has a piercing edge.
  • The Bible has a penetrating thrust.
  • The Bible has a probing eye.
  • The Bible has a saving intent.
All of these characteristics of the Bible tell us how desirable and needful the Word ought to be in the lives of God’s people. Jesus, the Son of God, understood the importance and place the Scriptures should have. In response to a temptation of Satan, He elevated the Word above food. The Bible transforms what we hunger for.

And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” ~Matthew 4:3,4

Jesus' first response to the temptation of Satan was to quote a passage of scripture from the Old Testament. In the eighth chapter and the third verse of Deuteronomy, Moses teaches the children of Israel that God had allowed them to hunger for a period of time in the wilderness, then fed them manna from heaven to teach them that it is by His Word they live. Man ought to hunger for God's Word more so than that which only satisfies the belly. After all, it is only by His Word we are able to see our way through this dark and evil world. The Bible transforms how and what we see.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ~Psalm 119:105

If there is one thing we need today as we negotiate our way through this dark and evil world, it is light to see the way. All too often though, we are content to spend most of our time in darkness rather than reading from God's Holy Word. The Scriptures provide light for us only as we open its pages and read what God has to say to us. It is by those truths we read in the Bible that we are able to discern our way. If our path has wandered from where God would have us to be, then we will quickly see that our steps have strayed from it. You will not get that kind of help or find that kind of light anywhere else, no, not in this world. The Bible transforms who and what we believe.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~1 John 4:1

There is a great deal of confusion in the world today over who has the truth. We saw it last week during the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye over the validity of the Genesis account of creation. There are also many different groups claiming to be Christian with all kinds of doctrine, and each of them claiming to be the truth, even when they contradict the Bible. This is a work of Satan and he seeks to confuse those who would look to God for direction. The disciple John tells us not to believe every spirit, but try them, see if what we hear is of God. As he goes on to explain, there are many false prophets out there, all with their own version of what they call the truth. How do we try them? What steps do we take to discern God's truth from the lies of the false prophets? The Bible transforms how we know and believe.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15

There does not need to be any confusion concerning the truth, nor should we be fooled by the lies of false teachers. We can easily find the truth within the pages of Scripture. If we are daily reading God's Word and spending time in the study of what He has said, then we will know the truth when we hear it. We should take our cue from the Son of God. He did not call down fire from heaven when Satan tempted Him, nor did He ignore the lies and twisted use of Scripture. He relied on His knowledge of God's Word! The Word of God lives, transforms, pierces, penetrates, probes, and saves.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. ~Hebrews 4:12,13

Friday, February 7, 2014

Living for the Line

What are you living for... the line or the dot?
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. ~Hebrews 11:13

After speaking about the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob, the writer of Hebrews notes the connecting thread in all of their lives; they died not receiving the fulfillment of the promises of God, but could see the fulfillment of them and were content with God’s timing for them. Not one of them considered themselves citizens of the present world, but acknowledged they were just passing through on their way to a world and time coming promised by God. Their contentment and hope (an assured belief) was in God’s promises not in whatever the here and now could provide. They were living for the line of eternity and not for the dot of today.

For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. ~Hebrews 11:14

People who are on the same journey for the distant homeland of God’s fulfilled promises, ought to be clear and dedicated to following the same path these examples of faith were. This past Sunday Pastor showed us the path they had all taken and committed their lives to; he called it the “Footpath of Faith.” To journey the “Footpath of Faith” we must:
  1. See God’s promises
  2. Be persuaded by God’s promises
  3. Embrace God’s promises
  4. Rest on God’s promises
  5. Confess God’s promises
Abraham did not know Jesus experientially, but could “see” His day coming and received it as one would receive a close and dear friend in a warm embrace. This is the nature of true faith when it looks to the man Christ Jesus and embraces the promises of salvation from the consequences of sin and God’s wrath on it.

“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” ~John 8:56

For us the question is “What are we living for?” Pastor’s message was a solid word for traveling the path of faith leading to an eternity with God rather than living for the very finite dot we are bound to now. Let us not be pouring our time, resources, and lives into things that have no eternal good, but rather let us be giving ourselves to those things which our Savior set before us as worthy. What things you ask?

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

To put it another way, Jesus wants us to see the infinite worth of pouring our lives into seeking the lost for salvation, building up and serving those who are the church, and loving God by knowing Him and glorifying Him as He alone deserves. This is the path of faith. Do you desire a better existence than the one this world can provide? Do you desire God Himself as your ultimate treasure? If so, then He is your God and He has a home prepared and waiting for you.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. ~Hebrews 11:16