Friday, September 26, 2014

Death and Other Things

It seems to me that for the past few years, I have lost some good friends and family to the reality of physical death.  Of course some of that may be because of the fact that my friends and I are getting older and bodies do wear out.  But even young people die. 

The cause is from original sin.  It sure changed everything.  God warned Adam about sin ... but he didn't listen did he.  So God did what He had to do ... He ordained and pronounced the sentence of physical death upon man.  This death sentence was so traumatic and so destructive that all living things upon God's green earth also had to suffer the consequence of man's sin.  Everything goes from order to disorder, from life to death.

How many people over the history of man have asked the very same question ... why?  Some have asked ... "Why did my infant baby die?"  Or ... "Why did the drunk driver live, but my wife or husband didn't?"  Or a hundred other similar questions.  
The only sure answer is ... "as in Adam, all die."   (1st Corinthians 15:22)

Death isn't a fun subject to talk about ... but it's a reality ... and because God ordained it, it must be a good thing.  Now that thought sounds strange doesn't it?  No really, think what one particular death has already accomplished. 

Who first thought of death?  Who first brought it up?  Doesn't the Word of God say that Jesus, as the Lamb ... "was slain from the foundation of the world."  (Revelation 13:8)  

Before creation, God had already purposed in His heart and mind to bring redemption to man through the death of Jesus.  1st Peter 1:18-20 speaks to this ...

"You were not redeemed with corruptible things ... But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world ..."

So death was planned and ordained by God.  So I say it is good ... even though we don't like it.  The fact is, I'm tired of death.  I hate it.  I've seen too much of it.  Death leaves us hurting, death leaves us sorrowing.  Not the one who dies, only we who are left behind.  I don't ask why any more.  I just accept the fact and have started to believe that God has a purpose in which even death plays a part. 

For us, death goes back to God's sentence on original sin ... "it has been appointed for men to die." (Hebrews 9:27)  And as Paul says in 1st Corinthians 15:50 & 53 ... "Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God" ... so we must leave the things of earth behind, (like our physical bodies) which is why he follows with ... "this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

This now leads me to ask, who makes sure mortals die and put on immortality?  God does of course.  This brings me to Ephesians 1:11, in which Paul states in the first half of this verse "... we have obtained an inheritance ..." which speaks of eternity with Christ.  But what I really want to comment on is one phrase in the last half of this scripture.

"... according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will …" 

Notice ... "who worketh all things" …  meaning, in the working of all things, His will and purpose is not confined to just one thing … such as salvation; but that every object and event is under His control and is in accordance with His eternal plan and purpose.  The affirmation here is that ... "God does everything."

God's hand is seen in everything, everywhere.  Every leaf, flower or blade of grass, every sunrise and sunset, every flash of lightning all declare His glory and the power of God.  There is not one object that we see that does not speak of the control of a God who has purpose in what He does.

It would be impossible to affirm any more positively that God’s rule is universal and over all things, than Paul does with the statement … "who worketh all things."  Paul does not attempt to prove it.  It is one of those points on which he does not deem it necessary to pause and reason, or to further explain why God does what He does.  He merely affirms that fact which may be regarded as a conceded point of God's providence.

He works all things everywhere. But He does it in accordance with the laws of nature that He has already given.  The general doctrine is … "that God works in all things and controls all things" according to … "the counsel of his own will."

The phrase "counsel of his own will" is designed to show that it is not by consulting man's opinion and will, or conforming to their views, but by His own views of what is proper and right.  And that includes the sentence of death that Adam's original sin brought to man.

We are incapable of perceiving the reasons for what God does, and He is not required to make them known to others.  His purpose for what He does is determined by what He alone views to be right.  In every instance, we are to believe that there is a good reason for what He does, and may I add ... that we ought to have such a confidence in Him as to believe that He will do all things that is best for us whether we understand or not.

What man is there who has never had to face trouble, disappointment, sickness, sorrow or the death of someone near and dear to him?  You may say that God isn't the cause of these things.  You may be exactly right, and if you are ... what am I supposed to do with the following scripture?

Amos 3:6 ... "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" 

Is the Apostle Paul agreeing with Amos, and would he say the above evil was done ... "according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will ..." ?

Because God doesn't stop "things" from happening ... both good and bad, can we therefore say with any degree of certainty that God ordains them?  I'm just asking.

We have to face reality.  All kinds of stuff happens ... including death ... too soon and too often for me.

Deuteronomy 29:29 … "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us."

His will for most things, are revealed in the book.  But some things are not ... and these are usually the things that cause us the most grief.

It's almost as if God wants us to trust Him in death and other things.

(Comments are welcome, and will be posted by moderator.)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Moses Met Jesus

Did you know that Moses met Jesus in the person of "the Angel of the Lord" when he saw a burning bush on Sinai, the mountain of God, that ... "burned with fire, yet was not consumed."

I am convinced that in Scripture, everywhere the Angel of the Lord is seen ... it is a manifestation of Jesus before He was born of Mary.  He also appears as Captain of the Lord's host, the forth man in the fiery furnace, and numerous other places.  It is to be noted that the Angel of the Lord is never seen again in Scripture after Jesus is born of Mary as the Son of God.  Until then, Jesus was God the Word. 

If you read Exodus 3:1-15, you will see the following three persons in this story ... 1.) the Angel of the Lord appearing to Moses in the fire; 2.) you will read that the Lord sees Moses stop and turn aside to see why the bush is not burned; and 3.) you hear God tell Moses after He calls him by name ... "you are going to set My people free." 

So Moses asks the One speaking to him, "Who will I tell them, sent me?  What's your name?"   And God responds ... "tell them, I AM has sent you."  And then God says ... "this is My name forever."

That is my summery of the introduction of Jesus to Moses.  Almighty God, the "I AM" of the Old Testament also had many titles which showed the nature and personalities of God. 

Here are just a few ... Yahweh, El Shaddai, Adonai, Elohim, Jehovah, and of course the great "I AM."

Concerning the "I AM," and what God means by it ... this is how the Amplified Bible sort of explains this title in Exodus 3:14.

God said … "I AM Who I AM and What I AM, and I WILL BE What I WILL BE."

Okay, I have no argument with that.  We'll let God be whoever He wants to be, including the three in one ... Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Next I want to consider Jesus as the very same ... "I AM" ... but through some of the titles that He is associated with in the New Testament.  I believe the following scriptures show Jesus as the "I AM" of the New Testament.

The Bread of Life … John 6:35 … "I am the Bread of Life.  He who comes to Me will never be hungry."

The Light of the world … John 8:12 … "I am the Light of the world.  He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark."

The Door … John 10:9 … "I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved."

The Good Shepherd … John 10:11, 14 … "I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His own life for the sheep.  I know and recognize My own, and My own know and recognize Me."

The Resurrection and the Life … John 11:25 … "I am the Resurrection and the Life.  Whoever believes in Me, although he may die, yet he shall live."

The Way and the Truth and the Life … John 14:6 … "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me."

The Vine … John 15:5 … "I am the Vine, you are the branches."

John recorded seven times where Jesus said that He was … "I AM."

The Apostle Paul states this about Jesus in Colossians 1:15 … "He is the exact likeness of the unseen God."

Concerning Jesus, the writer of Hebrews 1:3 declares … "He is the sole expression ... the perfect imprint and very image of God's nature."

This is why Jesus could say in John 14:9 … "Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father."

Jesus is the ... "I AM" of the Bible.  At least that's my humble opinion.

(All scripture ... Amplified Bible.)

Comments are welcome, and will be posted by moderator.

Friday, September 12, 2014


The following is from the Blog ... "Beyond The Risk."

The last two months have been perhaps the most challenging of my life ...

In the midst of our chaos, everywhere I go people are constantly asking how I’m doing and telling me how their family, or their small-group, or their church, or their grandmother in North Dakota (ok, I made that one up) has been praying for me. This is the beautiful side of social media, I suppose. In times like these, there’s nothing more comforting than knowing you’re not alone.

But prayers and encouragement aren’t the only form of solidarity I’ve felt these past few months. Suffering is everywhere. From broken relationships, to broken dreams, to broken cultures and broken bodies, suffering finds us all. If you don’t believe me, you’re either naive, one of the X-men, or you just haven’t lived long enough yet.

So I thought I might share a few words of encouragement with all my fellow humans out there today, starting with a beautiful note my wife’s 84 year old grandmother sent to us as my prognosis unfolded:

Reading Mark 4 ... 
We don't always know a storm is ahead.  But one thing ... we don't go alone. 
Jesus is right here!!  You see ... He has not promised an easy voyage, but a safe arrival
Have learned over the years ... My God is in Control. 
Love you - all

"He has not promised an easy voyage, but a safe arrival."

As I’ve pondered "Grannys" words again and again these past few months, it’s surfaced a few important things I needed to remember about suffering.

1. Suffering is hard. You don’t have to repackage it, glamorize it, or minimize it. It sucks. Don’t pretend it doesn’t to sound more spiritual.

2. Suffering was promised. As a kid, I always pushed those scriptures aside as an unfortunate reality most certainly reserved for missionaries in dangerous foreign fields, not middle-class suburbanites. You may never wonder where your next meal is coming from or experience the ravaging effects of a global pandemic, but you will experience suffering.

(Um, I thought this was supposed to be encouraging? Hang on).

3. Suffering isn’t Karma. Bad decisions can certainly lead to bad outcomes, but difficulties in our lives are not some cosmic repayment system for our past sins. If you’re suffering in some way today, it’s not because there’s something uniquely wrong with you or because you just don’t have enough faith to make it all go away.

4. Suffering re-calibrates. It exposes all the places I’ve place my trust outside of God Himself. Suffering is a relentless reminder that we’re broken, that we need help, that the world is not yet as it is supposed to be, and that we are most certainly not the ones who can fix it.

5. Suffering points us to the "suffering Savior." Jesus didn’t parade into history as untouchable royalty, looking down His nose at we poor, sinful plebes who just don’t have it in us to climb our way up to Him. From all His majesty He came to us a "suffering servant," acquainted with our sorrows and familiar with our grief. He doesn’t moralize from on high about our suffering, He shares it. He’s been there, and His grace is found where we finally reach the end of ourselves.

Whatever suffering you’re facing today, unbearably great or comparably small, I pray you find more than trite comfort here.

You’re not alone.

Erik Cooper ... Father, Leader, Recovering Coward.

My thanks to Erik Cooper ... I read this a couple months ago when I needed it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Blessed Man of Psalms

In my previous post on Psalms entitled "Blessed," I only covered what the blessed man did not do as part of his lifestyle.  It was a simple and basic look at Psalms 1:1 ...

"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."

So now I will try to cover a little more of this important first Psalm with the question ... "Why is it that this man is so blessed?"  Obviously it has something to do with God's Word.  This blessed man doesn't live out his life following the counsel of the ungodly, but instead, according to the next verse, Psalms 1:2 ... 

"His delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night."

Ah, yes.  Here we are back under, "The Law."  No, I'm not taking you there.  Because of what Jesus did there's nothing for us to worry about as far as the Law is concerned.  Here is part of the great work Jesus did on the cross, according to what the Apostle Paul said Jesus did with the Law in Colossians 2:14 …

"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross …"

When Jesus was nailed to the cross ... the Law was also nailed to the cross with Him.  His blood ran down the cross and blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us ... clearly meaning the Law.

Along the same lines, Paul writes to a different church in Galatians 3:13 …

"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."

Evidently there were some in this church who didn't understand salvation through "Grace," and thought living the old way under the Law was better.  So Paul asks them this question in Galatians 4:21 ...

"Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?"  (I think Paul is trying to say to them, it's yelling at us … bondage!  Don't go back.)

And then Paul adds in Galatians 5:1 …

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

As I often do ... I have wandered off topic.  But if this blog is God's, then someone needed to read once again Paul's teaching on the freedom and liberty we have in Jesus compared to our works under the law which cannot save anyone.

So what are we talking about here ... "His delight is in the law of the Lord."

I like how this verse reads in the Amplified Bible ... "His delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and night."    

The man spoken of here, does not view the law as a curse or condemnation, even though he is judged under it ... but rather he delights to be in it as the rule of his life.  Why is that?  The moral law of God, (the Ten Commandments) Paul even said is good, because without it we wouldn't know what sin is.  The law was a schoolmaster. 

So to this blessed man, God's moral law is his daily bread.  It's food to his soul.  But yet, in David's day, this  man most likely had only the Pentateuch, the first five books of Moses, the written Torah.  Even so ... it inspired him to serve God.

What becomes of this man?  What is his blessing? 

Psalms 1:3 ... "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doth shall prosper."

Consider ... he will not be just a wild seed that fell to the ground and grew, he has been purposely planted by God next to a river, which to me alludes to the river of life; not just in the eternal, but in the here and now when we need it.  Droughts and pestilence will not effect your fruit or your work production.

And ... "his leaf shall not wither."  The Hebrew ties all this together because of his delight in God's Word.  For me ... I believe the "leaf" represents his faith, his belief and understanding of God's faithfulness to him. 

By the Psalmist saying it won't "wither" ... he means his trust in the Lord won't "wilt, fail him or dry up and fall from the tree."

This leaf is a description of the health and faith of the man who does not walk in the way of the ungodly. 

Lastly ... "whatsoever he doth shall prosper."  This is a literal statement that contains a general truth for all Godly men who follow the Word of God.  The Psalmist later in this book declares ... "My cup runneth over" ... proving this truth.   

The Apostle Paul also gives his young friend the same advise in 1st Timothy 4:8, "... Godliness is profitable unto all things ..."

Now that's a promise.  What more should we want or desire?  Do you want good things to come your way?  Delight yourself in the Lord.

(Comments are welcome, and will be posted by moderator.)