Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's Not How You Start That Counts

The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off memory of them who do evil. Psalm 34:16

If this verse only pertained to wicked people who do evil things (and we qualify at times), why do we still remember them? Memories abound and are purposely recalled in hope that future generations won't make the same mistakes. So what does this scripture mean?

Consider Moses. His name conjures up images from the movie classic, The Ten Commandments. Moses defying Pharaoh and the court magicians, working miracles that challenged the validity of Egypt's gods. Moses splitting the Red Sea and then closing it up on the army that came to take the Israelites back to slavery. Moses standing on the mountain with the Ten Commandments horrified at the scene below him. Moses, the larger than life man of God who would later describe himself as the most humble person of his day (Numbers 12:3). It's easy to forget he didn't start out that way.

Before he became Israel's deliverer, Moses was a prince of Egypt. He was schooled in all the royal family needed for success. What changed his heart from loyal member of Pharaoh's household to champion of Hebrew's rights isn't clear. Envisioning himself as the answer to the slavery issue, he killed a man. Moses was a murderer before he was a deliverer. Do you often think of him in that way? I rarely do unless something reminds me of that fact.

When he encountered God at the burning bush his past felony record was not the key issue. He had a speech impediment not a criminal history that he believed disqualified him for God's service. Even if he felt justified in killing the man, he never mentioned it to God or anyone else that we know of.

This reminds me of Paul, the former Saul of Tarsus. Most of us think of him as the great missionary evangelist who wrote much of the New Testament. Paul fearlessly confronted anyone with the Gospel. He worked tirelessly to preach the Good News and disciple those who believed. He also jailed many believers and sent them to their deaths. In 2 Corinthians 7:2 he boldly stated that he'd wronged no one. In light of his past, this appears to be an arrogant lie. Like Moses, Paul experienced the grace of God that obliterated his past mistakes. David and Peter also had similar backgrounds of failure that seemed to be forgotten in the light of God's goodness extended to them.

God wants to remove from our consciences the toxicity of these memories. Maybe you literally murdered someone or killed them with your words. God's in the restoration business. Regardless of past mistakes He desires to reinstate us to unbroken fellowship with Him and direct us to His destiny for our lives. He did this by blotting out all sin with the blood of Jesus. He chooses not to remember them and wants us to do likewise.

If you struggle with things in your past, take heart. Others like Moses, Paul, David and Peter have walked in those same shoes and overcome their failures and downfalls. They went on to do great things with God. If they can, we can too.

Photo compliments of Photo Morgue

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fluid Dynamics

The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Psalm 24:1-2

When I read these two verses for the umpteenth time I was taken a back. Verse one is something I've quoted repeatedly over the years. Verse two wasn't as familiar and that's what got my attention. How can the earth be founded on water? Only solid when frozen, water, given the right conditions evaporates and vanishes into thin air. In the original Hebrew the words seas and waters refers to active bodies of liquids. How does God build on such a fluid, ever changing foundation?

I have no idea.

Man builds structures on water. In order to achieve any degree of stability these need somehow to be anchored to terra firma. These verses make me wonder if there are things about our world we haven't discovered yet.

According to Genesis, at one time our world was all water. Dry land appeared later in response to God's command. Maybe our world isn't all we believe it to be. This wouldn't be the only time God has defied our established rules of science.

Every living thing needs water. As part of His design God takes sea water and makes rain which nourishes plant, animal and human life. It also percolates down into the underground aquifers providing drinking water. Rain falls on creeks, steams and rivers which flow back into the seas. Water is the foundation of life and the biggest component of the human body. Take away food and we can exist for extended periods of time. Take away water and we're soon dead.

Water symbolizes the Word of God.

“In the beginning was the Word,” John 1:1

This sounds a lot like the description of our world in Genesis. Just as everything is dependent on water in the natural realm, Hebrew 1:3 declares, The Son is the radiance of God's being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” It appears that God's Word is the firma that holds our terra together.

As believers we're blessed to have God's word in a variety of formats including direct communication with Him. His Word needs to be the bedrock of our lives – period. Like the seas and the waters of Psalm 24, God's Word isn't stagnant or static. It never changes but it doesn't stay still. Hebrews 4:12 describes it as “living and active.”  God said, “it will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it,” Isaiah 55:11.

God's Word is earth’s and all creation’s foundation. If spoken words framed and continue to develop a universe as complex as ours, would earth's real foundation being water be so far fetched? Maybe not.

photo: wikipedia

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Only One Way?

The voice of one crying in the wilderness; “Prepare the Way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Isaiah 40:3 (emphasis mine).

I don't believe Isaiah subscribed to Universalism; the idea that there are many ways to God. He wrote in the singular – the way, a highway,” when he described God's way. God believes in diversity and individuality. He invented them. Look around and see the unique elements of creation that bear His signature. On one point He does refuse to compromise, even one iota.

I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me,” Exodus 20:1-3.

In case anyone misunderstood that statement, God reaffirmed his position in Isaiah 48:8.

“I am the Lord, that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”

Period. End of Discussion. God set the benchmark for Supreme Being evaluation. He claimed the top spot for Himself with no exceptions.

Instead of getting ourselves all in an uproar, we should be grateful. God's made the most important decision of our lives incredibly simple. There's only one God. No need to run the gauntlet of a pantheon of gods hoping to appease them all. There's no spiritual juggling act. Lots of gods leaves lots of plates spinning in the air; a real recipe for disaster. The more there are, the greater the potential for failure grows exponentially. Your theology ends up on shaky ground or thin air.

Consider this. When you need help, a straight answer, some immediate action, where is your best chance for success? Would you prefer to deal with an individual or a committee? God kept it simple. He's the one and only Final Authority. The buck stopped with Him and that made our lives much simpler.

Isaiah said to prepare a highway, not just cut a trail. When God comes He needs room to move. Privileged to glimpse into the future and see God's plan of salvation Isaiah discovered both Jews and Gentiles were included. In his day, that was radical thinking.

God's highway is roomy enough for all who choose to call Him Lord to walk together. This past Valentine's Day, Bob Jones a well respected prophet, went to heaven for the last time. God told him years ago that a harvest of one billion (that with a b) souls would occur. Bob didn't live to see the fulfillment of the word, but he believed he saw the first fruits of it. How big of a highway would a billion people plus God need? I'm no engineer but I think we ought to break out the heavy equipment and start leveling the ground. God's on the move and He's bringing many with Him. Company's coming, let's get prepared.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hope For The Fool In Us

A road will be there and a way; it will be called the Holy Way. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for the one who walks the path. Even the fool will not go astray. 
                                                      Isaiah 35:8  Holman Christian Standard Bible

This verse brings hope. As hard as I try to be a good Christian at times I fail and I'll probably make a few more mistakes during this earthly portion of my eternal life. I'd like to offer you a deal – the SECRET for being perfect. For just 29.95 plus shipping and handling I'll rush delivery to you of my latest book 10 Sure Fire Steps to Succeed Like Jesus. Act now and I'll send you two and only charge you shipping and handling for the second. I also have a few bridges to sell if you're interested.

Relax, that offer is all hype, completely bogus. Don't send me any money unless you're being generous or believe I need help with some mental health issues. I won’t hold my breath waiting until the funds arrive.

The only “perfect” Christian ever was Jesus. Technically, He wouldn't qualify for that designation either because He was Jewish. He is however the Word of God. If we read the bible and apply what we learn, we'll get the same results He did.

Here's is the secret. Perfect in the original language doesn't mean mistake free. Have you read Matthew 5:48 and winced?

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

Talk about setting the bar high, who in the natural can be like God? In our own strength it ain't happening; not that we won't knock ourselves out trying. In the supernatural realm it’s a different story. If we're supposed to be like our Heavenly Father how much time do you think He spends worrying about making a mistake? I'd venture to say the thought never crosses His mind. He focuses on more important things like justice, love, mercy and grace.

Contrary to what many have been taught, God isn't the ogre they envision. He's not waiting with bolts of lightning to zap us at the slightest infraction - just the opposite. He's our biggest cheerleader and supporter. He knew we'd mess things up so He provided for the blood of Jesus to wipe out all our sins. God knew that driven by good intentions and even pure motives we'd still fail on occasion. We’d act like idiots.

Those words from Isaiah provide hope for the fool in each of us. Yes the path is narrow that leads to life (Matthew 7:14). It appears there's little room for error. Depending on our own strength our case is hopeless. God gives hope to the hopeless. He is “able to guard what I've entrusted to Him for that day,” 2 Timothy 1:2. Despite intentional actions or unintentional mistakes, God can keep us on the right path.

Wherever you are don't stop putting one foot in front of the other as you trust God to direct your steps. If you feel like a fool or even for the moment are one, don't despair. Keep moving forward. God will lead you to your divine destiny.