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Weekly Word

Entries in Glory (12)

Tuesday
Jul092013

Glorifying God

Today we will move into chapter 2 of Malachi.  God continues to challenge the priests of Israel.  In chapter 1 he calls them to task for not correcting the people who brought lame, sick, and blind animals to sacrifice.  The priests not only were disobeying the Law, but they had also developed an attitude that God’s commands and the sacrificial system were tiresome.

Glorifying God

In verses 1-2 the priests are warned that if they do not give glory to God’s Name then a curse will come upon them.  So what does it mean to glorify God’s Name?

The word for “glory” comes from a root that refers to something heavy.  This is reminiscent of chapter one where the prophecy given to Malachi is called a “burden.”  To glorify God is to give Him (and His Words) a certain weight in the sense that He cannot be tossed aside lightly.  In fact God is to be glorified (treated as heavier) above all other things in this world. His Word should be too heavy to toss aside or ignore.  This is exactly what the priests have been doing.  In fact when we ignore God’s Word it is like ignoring a Mac Truck coming at you on the freeway.  It’s weight is real and you ignore it to your own peril.

Another way that we should recognize the weight of God’s Word is how seriously we take it.  If you were in line to inherit a large fortune and then were told by a lawyer that the Will had been changed and you now inherited nothing, you would want to see the document.  You would seriously read through every paragraph and line because you have so much riding on what it says.  God’s Word is even more important than that.  Yet, it is so easy at times for us to treat it as if it was just a bed time story.  If there is something in God’s Word that you don’t understand then it should bother you to the point that you study, pray, and seek for understanding.

Another thing about glorifying God’s Name is pointed out by Jesus.  He chastised the religious leaders for treating the traditions of men as more important than God’s Word.  Over time we can lose sight of what comes from the traditions of past leaders and what comes from God’s Word.  When they clash we should choose God’s Word over the top of men’s simply because God’s Word has greater Weight than men’s.  Thus we give glory to God when we obey Him over the top of men.

Remember how Paul commended the Berean’s for checking the Word to see if it backed up what Paul was saying?  This is the heart that we need to have.

The Coming Curse

God warned that a curse would follow on the heels of not glorifying Him.  Now in Deuteronomy 27-28 the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience were spelled out in the Law.  In fact, when Israel entered the land of Canaan they spit up into two groups on Mt. Gerazim and Mt. Ebal.  They recounted the curses and blessings.  So God is keeping His Word to which Israel agreed to be accountable.

Now it is one thing to be cursed by a witch, warlock, or shaman.  Christians need not fear these curses.  We can trust in the covering of the Son of God, Jesus.  However, when God sends a curse it cannot be avoided and there is no protection from it.  We Americans need to take this to heart because we have been tossing God and His Word aside both in the secular world and in the religious world.  We have been blessed by God to the point that we have become the greatest power in the world.  However, we will find that blessing cursed if we do not turn back to God and glorify Him.

What does such a curse look like?  Basically God begins to remove or diminish the blessings that he has given.  Their economy would plummet to the point that they would have to borrow from other nations instead of being the ones giving loans.  Their military would be defeated and they would eventually come under the subjugation of other nations.  Their population would be increasingly impacted by governmental corruption, crime, war, disease and overall generational degeneration.  In short God will face them to face the Truth of His Word.  Is any of this sounding familiar?  I believe that a curse from God has entered the land of the United States of America.  It is not an all or nothing thing.  It always comes slowly and over a long period of time so that people can repent.  Are we repenting as a people?  Quite the opposite.  We seem intent on pressing the pedal to the metal as we plunge off the cliff of rejecting God’s Word.  The curse will only become more obvious in the days, months, and years ahead.  We will be forced to face the Truth of God’s Word.

Know this: God always warns the ignorant and curses the unrepentant.  We become cursed because he removes his hand of protection and blessing.  Today we have become “willingly ignorant.”  God is faithful to warn through faithful Christians and devastating events.  Will we repent?  Each generation makes a decision as to what path they will walk: the path to blessing or the path to curses.  The path to curses always ends in destruction.  Paul warned Christians in Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”  We cannot make a mockery of God’s Word and expect anything but corruption and destruction, period.  But if we want “life” we must listen to what His Spirit is saying.

God Desires Faithful Servants

In verses 3-7 God tells them what is going to happen to them and then reminds them of the day when he first called the sons of Levi to serve Him.  There were some who took God’s Word lightly such as the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, who were killed by God for disregarding His command.  But the rest feared the Lord and glorified His Name by obeying.  They served God in Truth and in Faith.

Now we should remember that all believers in Jesus Christ are priests unto the Lord.  In 1 Peter 2:9 it says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  When you look at verse 6, God describes what he is looking for in a priest.

First we see that “God’s Word was in his mouth.”  Our mouth needs to be praising and speaking the Word of the Lord.  Why wouldn’t it?  Perhaps we let ourselves become enamored with other words?  Next we do not promote injustice.  God is concerned with the way that we treat one another.  It needs to be just, not as we define it, but as God defines it.  The priest of God needs to be at peace and straight with God.  There are no issues that are separating us.  Rather we are honestly seeking to serve Him with all our heart.  Next, we should “turn others back towards God.”    This is not just the job of pastors.  However, pastors should take it doubly to heart.  A priest encounters people who are walking away from God and works to encourage them back into the path towards Him.  Lastly, the priest of the Lord faithfully gives God’s message to a lost world.

O friends, how we need to recapture the true priesthood of all believers.  We are called to be the hand, voice, and Words of Jesus in the lives of our nation.  May we have a healthy fear of God that does not settle for being plundered by the enemy.  But, rather, rises up and faithfully speaks in the face of increasing notoriety.

Glorifying God Audio

Tuesday
Mar052013

Peter's Prayer for Believers

Today we will finish the book of 1 Peter as we look at 1 Peter 5:10-14.  It begins with a prayer that Peter prays for them and, by extension, for us today.  Before we look at the specifics for which Peter prays, let’s look at his descriptions of the God to whom he prays.

The God To Whom Peter Prays

First Peter describes Him as the “God of all grace.”  He is the source of all the good things that have come into our life.  James 1:7 says, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of lights in whom there is no shadow of turning.”  Even things that we may think came from other people, can be traced back to God when we ask questions such as: Who gave them the health, strength, finances etc…, to do what they did?  What moved their heart to help me?  Did they make themselves?  Good comes to us through the creation which God himself made.  Thus he is the source of all good.

He is also the God of all grace in the sense that, when we are in difficult times, He is the One to whom we should turn.  His potential supply of help and grace is inexhaustible.  He has “all” the grace we need.

Second, God has called us into His glory by Jesus.  Just as he told us, Jesus is the door by which we are invited to participate and enjoy the glory of God.  This God who has made a way for you to have a part in His glory is the God Peter addresses.  Notice that Peter qualifies this with the statement, “after you have suffered a little while.”  Now my flesh really wishes Peter had left that out.  Suffering has been a big part of this letter.  Peter recognizes that in this life we have our particular lot of suffering.  Here, Peter agrees with what Paul said in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  After the sufferings of this present world, we will join God in his eternal glory.  In that moment this present suffering will seem small, light, and incomparable.  That may not make it easy now.  But it is part of the Hope that we hold.

Lastly, in verse 11, we see that God is the only One worthy of the glory and power of creation.  Any glory and power of this world has its being in Him.  Thus any glory it has reflects upon the God who made it.  Within our own lives we should live in a way that is reflective of the glory that he has.  And, if there is any praise or glory back to us from people, it really is ultimately deflected back to Him.  All glory and all Power really do exist for his purposes and are representative of Him.

Peter Prays that God Would…

He prays that God would perfect us.  The word for perfect here means to mend or fix that which is broken.  As a fisherman, Peter had “perfected” many a net so that he could use it again.  Like a ship that has gone through a storm, we may be beat up and wounded.  Perhaps, like the shipwreck that Paul went through, we may have thrown some precious cargo and tackle overboard in order to survive.  Peter prays that God would fix and mend their lives.  He prays that God would equip them with whatever needful thing they have lost and supply any new thing necessary for them to fulfill the purpose for which they have been made.  We need to cooperate with this perfecting in our lives.  Some things that are painful or difficult are the very things that God is using to mend and fix us, if we look to Him in faith and trust.

He also prays that God would establish us.  This word means to be firmly set.  It is the picture that we will not be easily knocked over or moved.  Clearly we are to be firmly set in Jesus.  So that we will not be easily swayed or knocked off of our dependence and faith in Him.

Next he prays that God will strengthen us.  This word does often refer to physical strength, but I am quite confident that Peter has an inner strength in mind here.  Thus he is asking for God to strengthen their hearts and souls.  Our hearts and minds are inundated daily by the temptations and deceits of our own sinful flesh and of our enemy the devil.  Thus we will need strength in order for our faith to persevere through the individual tests and to the end of our life. 

Lastly he prays that God would settle us.  This word literally means to put a foundation under something.  Clearly, as I said earlier, this foundation is Jesus.  1 Corinthians 3:11, “No other foundation can anyone lay that that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.”  However, it is more than just a name or an identity.  God places the life, teachings, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus under us as a foundation.  He does this by giving us teachers, fellow believers, and the Holy Spirit.  As we cooperate with this process we are enabled to build upon a foundation that can never fail.  When the person and work of Jesus is the basis for everything we do then we can say that God has finished this task in our life ; )

Peter’s Closing Comments

Verses 12-14 are the closing of this letter.  Peter makes it clear that his purpose in this letter was to exhort and testify that they had received the “true grace of God.”  Much speculation had traveled throughout the empire and the apostles had to be vigilant all the time in the area of doctrine.  He encourages them that they have already received the “true” grace of God, as opposed to any new “grace of God” that someone might be shilling.  Though it might not seem like enough, we have been given the grace that God knows will not only help us, but is all we need.  We can trust his provision.  In light of a day and age that speculates on everything, we need to hear this message now more than ever.  Every year a new speculation about religious conspiracies within Christianity or even in its origin try to question whether we have been given the true grace of God.  It is true that many Christian groups have added to God’s Word.  However, in the Bible we have the eye witness testimony of men who were there and verify that the things we have recorded are true.  I won’t go into it here, but the text of the Bible is without question the most verified ancient text.  Any attempts to change its text have been easily spotted throughout history and were never global in their acceptance.  We can be confident that we have just read the actual letter that Peter wrote to believers in the first century.

Peter also exchanges greetings from the church where he is writing.  The “she” referred here is tied to the believers who are receiving the letter by the phrase “elect together.”  This clearly is a reference to the church (a feminine noun that would use a feminine pronoun) rather than a specific woman.  It is interesting that Peter appears to be in Babylon.  If it is meant literally then it would be a reference to the Babylon of the Mesopotamia.  However, many have pointed to a possible coded reference to Rome.  John appears to do this in the book of Revelation.  So it is possible.  Another reason to believe that this may be a reference to Rome is that in the book of 2 Peter 1:14, Peter mentions this first letter and that he is about to be put to death.  Since the clear testimony of history is that Peter died in Rome, it is very likely that he was in Rome which led to his martyr.  Many Protestants have rejected this because of the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching that Peter was the first Pope in Rome.  There is no evidence that Peter ever was a Bishop or Pope in Rome.  Yet, we need not be blind to the fact that Peter probably interacted with the Roman church before his execution.  These two letter appear to have been written in the period leading up to his death.

Peter’s last statement is to remind them of their duty to love one another.  He does so by referring to a customary greeting, the kiss.  The biblical injunction here is emphasizing the kind of greeting rather than the act of greeting itself.  As Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, so believers are to reject such hypocritical and deceptive techniques.  They are to truly love one another and not hide behind the mask of social customs.  Then he prays peace to those who are in Jesus.

Are you in Jesus today?  That means you have trusted in him to be the forgiver of your sins.  You have looked to his death as the price of your own sins.  You have trusted in his work on your behalf to make thing right between you and God.  Have you done this?  Don’t put it off.  God has loved you within time and throughout history.  It is revealed to you today through this letter that Peter wrote.  Your faith is not a leap of faith, but a trusting in the objective reality of the testimony of not just Peter, but also thousands who witness the coming of the Savior of the World, Jesus.

Peter's Prayer audio

Tuesday
Feb122013

The Problem of Suffering IV

Today we will finish up chapter 4 of 1 Peter by looking at verses 12-19.  Peter will finish up the topic of the suffering of Christians before concluding his letter in chapter 5.

In This World Suffering Is Normal

In verse 12 Peter reminds them that their suffering is not a strange thing.  As the Creator, God himself is the definition of what is normal.  It is He who made the earth and the universe.  Thus we could say that it is not normal.  However, since the rebellion of mankind and many of the angelic order, it has become normal for those who do righteousness to suffer for it.  Satan has strong control over the minds and powers of this world.  So we should not be surprised at opposition.  In America we have had it so good for so long that we have forgotten that all institutions and nations eventually fall to the infiltration of this spiritual enemy.  It is only by God’s Spirit that we can win.

Peter refers to suffering as a fiery trial.  This is reminiscent of the 3 Hebrew boys who were protected from the fire of Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel.  Even though we are not all physically protected, the fiery trials of this world cannot destroy our faith in God.  In fact if our faith is mere wood, hay, or stubble it will not survive.  But if our faith is true metal, the fire will only serve to purify us.  Thus what the enemy intends for evil, God works for our good.  Notice that God doesn’t often overturn the event itself.  Rather, He overturns the end to which it was sent.  Thus God uses fiery trials to prove that our faith is genuine and also to purify it and make it stronger.

In the next verse, Peter points out that they have a unique point of fellowship with Christ, namely in his sufferings.  Not many would volunteer to share in someone’s sufferings.  But much like fellow combatants who have a connection with each other because they went through the same “fire,” so too, we can come to understand the sufferings of our Lord Jesus.  His strength of faith and purity of heart cause us to go deeper in our love for who He is.  His endurance under intense suffering is a foreign thing to us when we have never suffered.  But when we suffer we understand and love Jesus on a far deeper level.  This is a cause for rejoicing.  We have joy now, but when Jesus is revealed from heaven in great glory we will do more than rejoice.  The word translated exceeding could also be translated as “causing to spring up.”  Today we can rejoice, but then we will be filled with “Leaping joy.”  The joy of Christ’s coming will be a far sweeter event when we have endured sufferings on behalf of our Lord.

Make Sure You Suffer For The Right Reasons

Let’s look at the next three verses (14-16).  Earlier Peter had warned slaves not to be punished for evil.  But if they are punished for doing good to bear it as unto the Lord.  Similarly, here he calls all believers to make sure that if they are suffering it is for the right reason.  If we suffer because of our trust in Jesus Christ we bring glory to God and ourselves.  First we bring glory to Christ because we honor him as worthy of our suffering.  In a world that rejects and dishonors Christ, we stand up and honor him.  We declare that we will go through anything in order to be with Jesus.  Peter reminds them that those who make such statements and live in that way will find the Glory of God’s Spirit resting on them.  This is a clear reference back to the temple.  When the Spirit of God came upon the tabernacle and the temple, it came like a cloud that rested upon the place.  That which was reserved for the most holy place now resides upon all believers who put their faith in Jesus.  The cloud may not be visible.  But we have a Spirit of Glory and also a destiny of Glory.

There is no shame in suffering because of Christ.  It is shameful to suffer because you are a murderer, a thief, an evil-doer, or a gossip.  But to suffer because of Christ is to put our hopes in a glory that is future.  When Jesus returns in great glory to judge the world, those who have put their trust in him will be raised to a glorious place with him.  Thus we ought to do all we can to glorify God in the way that we suffer, in speech, deed, and attitude.

Prepare For God’s Judgment

Peter reminds them that it is time for God’s judgment to come down.  But that judgment must first start with His people.  It would be easy to jump on Israel, but the first one judgment came upon was Jesus himself.  On the cross, the sins of the world were placed upon Jesus and the Father poured out his wrath upon Christ.  However, we can also recognize that God did not go on to judge Rome, but rather his judgments came upon Israel, its leaders, and its priesthood.  However, this judgment continues.  The church spiritually is free from judgment.  But in the flesh the believers looked like a people under the judgment of God.  In fact we are counseled to judge ourselves and turn to God in repentance.  We are a judged people.  God always judges His people first. But don’t fool yourself for one second.  His judgment will move to the world and those who are lost.  This world flatters itself as it pompously watches this judgment.  But their time is coming.  In fact the Roman kingdom eventually was judged, split asunder and then ruined.  The nations of this world may think that the Church’s days are numbered and that they will progress beyond religion, but a day of judgment is coming in which they will see the folly of their thoughts.  If the righteous one is barely saved what will become of the sinner?  He will have no hope.  What is meant by barely saved?  It means that our salvations hinges on a single moment in which we wavered on the edge of belief, precariously perched.  Few boldly march into heaven and lay down their crowns.  Most fearfully fret over the moment of faith and yet once they believe they find that the Lord’s hand is there.  This is not meant to minimize the work of God and maximize the works of man, but rather to point out the frailty of man.  If it were not for God none could be saved.

Thus we ought to entrust our souls unto God.  In verse 19 Peter challenges us to put our faith in God by doing what is good, or right.  That is the challenge.  We might shrink back from the right thing because it will bring us suffering.  But Peter says to do what is right and put your soul in God’s hands.  What a safe place.

Notice he refers to God as a faithful Creator.  I believe he does this to remind us of all the things God did at creation.  We are entrusting ourselves into the hands of the One who is powerful enough to create all things.  We are entrusting ourselves into the hands of the One who was wise enough to create all things. We are entrusting ourselves into the hands of the One who has a purpose in Creation,  just as he has a purpose in allowing this momentary suffering into our life.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me praise His holy name!

Problem of suffering IV audio

Tuesday
Dec182012

Jesus The Faithful Son

It is easy to think of the baby Jesus in simple loving terms.  However, that little baby was more than just the beginning of something.  In that moment of visibility we are able to see something that had began before creation.  In Revelation 13:8 we are told that Jesus was “slain from the foundation of the world.”  That means that before creation was begun, the Father and the Son had agreed to the plan that required the Son to take on the nature of a man and pay the price for the sins of mankind.  His birth was a beginning but not.  An example of this is when the Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy.  It was a beginning, but a lot of things happened before that which may or may not have been clear to the French.  Planning, moving of troops and assets all had to be worked out before that visible moment of troops landing.  In the same way the little baby Jesus was the divine presence making its own landing on the beachhead of humanity.  Much planning and prepositioning of assets had happened up to this point.  This is an eternal plan reaching a critical and visible point.  Jesus could have been born to Abram and Sarah.  They received a “miracle child.”  However God knew that Jesus’ birth would not be understood and would not help mankind without a lot of teaching.

Let’s look at Hebrews chapter 3 as we focus on the coming of Jesus.

Jesus Comes As The Faithful Son Of God

The writer of Hebrews is writing to people who thought very highly of Moses.  He points out that Jesus comes in a way that is similar to Moses and yet much more glorious.  Thus in the first 2 verses we see that the Father has appointed the Son to be the apostle and high priest of our confession.  As apostle, he is the one sent by the Father to make the gospel known.  As high priest he is the one who mediates between God and man.  He directs and accomplishes the sacrifice needed to cover sins.  Thus the little baby has quite the job to do.  The word confession refers to our statement of faith in Jesus and the gospel.  Thus it literally means to speak the same thing.  This is an important thing for new believers to understand in this day and age.  We are called to embrace the same Truth that the Prime Apostle, Jesus, handed down to his apostles.  If we do not “speak the same thing” as them, then we are departing from the good confession.

Jesus had agreed to fulfill this mission in eternity past, before the world was created.  All of history was leading up to this moment that had been prophesied, a day of salvation and healing for mankind.

Jesus Is The One Worthy Of Glory

It is difficult to imagine the boundless glory of God taking up residence within a human body.  This is the realm of Movies and Marvel comics.  Jesus looked like any other baby, but there was something different about him.  In him dwelt the divine being that had been involved in the creation of all things that existed.  Not only that, but in verse 5 the writer points out that Moses served as a servant in God’s house.  However, Jesus comes forth as the Son to build his own house.  Thus the glory of Moses that Israel so often referred to was nothing compared to the glory of the Son who had come down to build his own house.  Moses’ life and activity was a witness and example of what Jesus would come and do.  Just as Moses called the people to leave Egypt and follow him into the desert until God led them to a Promised Land, so Jesus calls us out of the world to follow him into the desert where he promises to lead us to the promised end of the Father.  The Church is the “house” that belongs to Jesus.  We are his body and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus takes the believing remnant of natural Israel and he combines them with a believing remnant of the Gentile nations to create a new house, the Church.  Those who believe have a part, a share, a portion in this endeavor that has been set aside for them. 

To Reject Jesus Is To Forfeit A Share In Him

The rest of the chapter focuses on the danger of missing who Jesus is and falling away from faith in him.  Let me just say that many get bogged down in trying to determine whether those who “fall away” ever believed or not.  Whole systematic theologies have been built up through trying to fill in all the gaps that exist within the teaching of Scripture.  So I challenge you with this.  Regardless what your systematic theology, do not let it distract from the warning that is given here in God’s Word.  The Holy Spirit clearly warns us of danger and we need to treat it as so.  The word Beware in verse 12 is literally “watch,” or “look.”  Jesus had warned his disciples at the last supper that he was going to be put to death.  He warned them again in the garden.  In fact he told them to “watch and pray” so that they might not fall into temptation.  Watching is not just about looking outward to the world.  Often it is looking into our heart before God in prayer.  It is where we confess before God the weakness of our flesh and pray for power to obey the Spirit.  Prayer is ultimately watching and guarding our heart.  What we are watching out for is an unbelieving heart that causes us to “depart” from God.  We see that at Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.  His disciples were afraid and departed from him.  They failed to stand with him, even though their spirit wanted to.  They learned to lean upon the Holy Spirit and guard their hearts against the desires of the flesh.  We can fail here just as easily.  The Bible warns of an end times apostasy in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.    IF we do not guard our hearts and watch our souls in prayer then we will not pass the trials of this life.  But if we believe to the end, vs. 14, we will be saved.  Notice the emphasis is on the belief and not so much works.  Belief will always lead to real works.  But the lack of belief can be masked by false works of pretence.  In fact Jesus had commanded them in Luke 21:1 to take possession of their souls by patience.  Trust God and wait upon him.  Don’t get to over thinking things and desire to go back to Egypt (the world).  We are warned in vs. 13 of Hebrews 3 that sin is deceitful.  It lies to us and manipulates our flesh to self-justify that which endangers our soul.  It is a process that dulls our senses and saps us of strength.  This is precisely what we combat when we watch in prayer over our souls.  A hardened heart will refuse to follow Jesus at the time that it matters most. 

Final Thoughts

God has made a place for you before everything was created.  He even knows the place that “could have been” for those who refuse to believe.  Don’t let yourself be pulled away from it.  Satan does not want you to take your place in the Church of Jesus and neither does he want you to receive your portion in the Age that is to come.  If we let ourselves be deceived and live for the flesh now, it will be harder to follow Jesus later.  God has set us up for success, but we can squander that and set ourselves up for failure.  God help us all to be faithful until the end.  Blessings.

Jesus the faithful audio

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