Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Random Thoughts

"LORD", or "Lord"?

"The LORD said unto my Lord,
‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’ "
(Ps. 110:1)


If my memory serves me correctly, this Old Testament verse is quoted in New Testament books more than any other. Therefore, we know that it contains some wisdom that is important for us to grasp. We know that in this famous verse, the Father is speaking to His Son because Jesus himself said so (Mt. 22:41-45).

In the Old Testament, when "LORD" is spelled with all capital letters, it refers to Jehovah, but "Lord" (only the "L" is capital) refers to anyone in authority lower than Jehovah. Every time you see "Lord" spelled with all capital letters (not just a capital"L"), the original word there is the word for Jehovah.

In the verse above, the LORD (Jehovah) is speaking to someone whom He especially loves, one who has been made so great by Jehovah that king David calls him his "LORD". In that verse, Jehovah is honoring someone with the greatest honor possible for any creature; that is, the exalted honor of being seated at the right hand of Jehovah in heaven. But no one ever knew who Jehovah was speaking to until the spirit of God was given to man in Acts 2. With the spirit’s coming, the understanding came that Jehovah was speaking to the young man crucified by the Romans at Golgotha: Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Jehovah’s ancient promise to this mysterious person continued in the next verse to speak of Jesus reigning on earth for a thousand years from Zion (that is, from Jerusalem): "The LORD shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies!"

Then, Jehovah’s promises to this highly honored person continued in verse 3, as He promised him perpetual youth (eternal life), and then, in one of the most famous verses in the Bible, He promised this blessed man an eternal priesthood. He said, "The LORD has sworn, and will not repent, ‘You are a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.’ "


In the remaining verses of this amazing prophetic Psalm, David speaks no more of what "the Lord" will do and speaks instead of "the Lord". Moved by the Spirit, David said, "The Lord at your right hand will strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He will judge among the heathen; he will fill the places with dead bodies; he will wound the heads over many countries. He will drink of the brook in the way; therefore shall he lift up the head." Here, the singing prophet is speaking of Jehovah’s Son, the Lord Jesus, who will make war on the nations and crush them with terrible power when he returns to "rule with an iron rod" over the earth for a thousand years.

Praise ye the LORD!

(And you can praise the Lord, too, while you’re at it.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Those Who Hated Them

"He gave them into the hand of the heathen, and they that hated them ruled over them."
Psalm 106:41

In Psalm 21, David sang, "The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ " But how do we know what is in anyone’s heart. Or a better question: How did David know what was in someone’s heart? The obvious answer is that he did not know anyone’s heart, but God did, and that it was the Spirit of God speaking through David, revealing what is in a fool’s heart. David himself said on his deathbed, "The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was in my tongue" (2Sam. 23:2).

It is wise to pay close attention to what the Spirit says, whether through David or anyone else. Here, the Spirit revealed what is in a fool’s heart, not necessarily what comes out of a fool’s mouth. When God, through Isaiah, revealed what was in Satan’s heart when he began to stir up rebellion against the Creator, the words that Satan was thinking could not have been the words that he spoke out loud to the creatures in heaven. His words to them would have been "smoother than oil", even though "war was in his heart".

The Spirit still reveals what is truly in the heart, and it is the only thing that can. Many times, it reveals what is truly in the heart by its silence. Isaiah (66) reveals that God will bring vengeance on those whose hearts are far from him by leaving them out, when He poured out His Spirit from heaven on the day of Pentecost. While Jesus’ followers were reeling under the power of God, praising God and speaking in tongues, those God condemned (and who in their hearts condemned God) remained speechless. Many of those left out of the Blessing were deeply religious elders, highly revered by God’s own, gullible people. But God knows the heart.

God still leaves out of the Blessing those who hate Him in their hearts, no matter how religious they appear to be. God does not judge by the appearance. He judges righteous judgment, and He is always right. In the Old Testament, as our beginning verse suggests us, God cursed His own people to be ruled over by those who hated Him and them. But anyone who studies the ancient world knows that all those nations that ruled cruelly over God’s people were extremely religious. But God was judging their hearts, not their beautiful ceremonies and claims of devotion to Deity. He had judged those heathen nations unworthy of His Blessing of the Law, but He also gave them power over His own people to rule over them.

So it is now. In many places, those whom God has left out of the Blessing, those who know nothing of the holy Ghost baptism, rule over God’s own people. They are deeply religious leaders, and they know how to impress the gullible children of God with an appearance of righteousness, but what is it that God sees in their hearts that He would refuse to give them His Spirit? Only God knows, and He is always right. Whoever He takes in, and whoever He leaves out, we still trust Him to have judged us all rightly.

Why do the saints of God remain under the yoke of teachers with no power and no truth? Why do they sit quietly and hear things they know are not right? If God has punished His people again with imprisonment to such masters, they have no choice but to sit there until God chooses to open a way for their escape.

I believe He is doing that now. Many among the saints are hearing His call to "Come out of her, my people", and what a precious call that is! It is a call to freedom from the rule of men and women who in their hearts hate them and their God, though they claim to be serving Him.
Does this sound preposterous? Does it sound impossible that God’s precious sheep should be ruled over by men who hate them and their God? The Old Testament, which Paul said "was written for our admonition", tells us not to think so.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

He Answered Them!

"Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among them that call upon His name.
They called upon the Lord, and He answered them. . . .
You answered them, O Lord our God
Ps. 99:6, 8a

When I read this, these words seemed to leap off the page at me. God answered them! And they were people just like us! This means that God is a God who can be called upon! Oh, the thought of it! What a great and wonderful thing!

James encouraged the saints to consider this wonderful truth about our God when he wrote this: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man subject to passions similar to ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for the space of about three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the earth brought forth her fruit."

Do you need a job? Do you need a friend? Do you need healing? Do you need wisdom from God? Call upon the Lord, "for He cares for you." Jesus said that we do not need to talk a lot when we talk to God, pointing out that some people think that they were gain a hearing with God because they throw a lot of words up at Him (Mt. 6:7). Then he said, "Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you have need of before you ask Him." And He will answer! He is listening. He cares. He knows. And He will be your friend. He will even answer the prayer you don’t know how to pray. He will even help you pray it!

"For we know not how to pray as we ought,
but the spirit itself makes intercession for us . . . according to the will of God" (Rom. 8:26-27).

Moses, Aaron, Samuel, and many others believed God was listening and that he cared, and that He was more than able to take care of them. The result? They prayed. And because they believed God and trusted in Him, He answered them. Everything in the Bible consistently proclaims that those righteous people were people just like us, and that God is the same to all generations.

That understanding, that feeling of joy and faith, is really what leaped off the page at me today. I believe I was being invited to ask, to seek, and to knock, and that I was being given a promise that God would answer me, too!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What "Kingdom" Means

"The Lord reigns! Let the earth rejoice!"
Ps. 97:1

"Make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King."
Ps. 98:6

A kingdom is the domain of a king; it is not a democratic state. None of God’s subjects advise Him or have a hand in determining the laws of His kingdom. His word is the law, the only law, of His kingdom. Heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible, exist and move at the King’s pleasure, and there is nothing that can resist His power. His title, "Lord of hosts", means "Lord of armies", but in reality, He needs no army. He governs by His word. The universe itself was created and is sustained by the breath that comes out of His mouth (Ps. 33:6). We exist only because the King wants us to exist.

God does whatever He pleases to do in His kingdom, and "there is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord" (Prov. 21:30). There is no second ruler, or third, in God’s kingdom; there are only servants and sons. He does not need Jesus any more than He needs the heavenly armies of angels. It is only because He willed to have a Son that He has one, and the Son’s very life came from God and is in God’s hands. Jesus made this point when he said that God had given him life (Jn. 5:26) and that he lived only by the Father’s continued mercy (Jn. 6:57). God raises up, and God casts down, and there is no creature who can begin to comprehend His power and wisdom.

In God’s kingdom, He alone determines everything, and because of that, only a fool would dare to devise a standard of his own rather than to submit to the standard that God has ordained. Beyond that, it is a privilege to be allowed to live by God’s holy and good standard, for God is no beggar. "The Lord is a great God and a great King" (Ps. 95:3), and no great king begs for followers; a great king makes men bow.

Our King has chosen to make men bow by overwhelming us with His goodness. "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord" (Ps. 33:5), and yet, for all that, most people on earth refuse to bow . . . for now. The King will not tolerate such insult forever. He has already announced that at some point, "every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess." But for the time being, wise men repent and submit themselves to the King of glory because of His goodness (Rom. 2:4).
God will be King forever (Ps. 10:16). He will always govern. For this reason, those who "despise government" will be cast into the Lake of Fire. God will always reign; He will always have standards that He expects His servants to meet; He will always give commandments (though "His commandments are not grievous"); and He will always be good.

Those who think that commandments are oppressive feel that way only because they are like Satan, who envied God’s power to make the rules. Those who seek a place where there is no government are fools; there is no such place anywhere. Even in Hell, God reigns according to His own good pleasure.

We praise God precisely because there is no place where He does not reign. We do not want to be anywhere without Him; we do not want to be anywhere but where He reigns because "He is good, and His mercy endures forever." We praise Him because we cannot live without Him. We don’t want to live without Him because He is good, and He loves us too much to leave us without His protective shadow. Like Jesus, we live by Him, and we love living by Him.

Our God is great! He is a great King and a good God. His kingdom (thankfully!) is forever, and if His holy spirit is in us, we are in the eternal kingdom "of His dear Son", for in Christ, "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy ghost" (Rom. 14:17). The King loved us so much that gave His only begotten Son so that we could partake of life in His kingdom. He will move heaven and earth for those who trust Him. He would make the sun stand still, or cast the stars down from heaven, or make a sea move back to make a way of escape for His children. It is no wonder that David sang, "The Lord reigns! Let the earth rejoice!" Who else would a sane man want to have sitting on the eternal throne?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Planted By God

"When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity flourish,
it is that they shall be destroyed for ever;
The righteous man will flourish like a palm tree; he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Those that be planted by the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God."
Ps. 92:7, 12-13

"Then his disciples came and said to him,
Don’t you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?
But he answered and said,
Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up."
Matthew 15:12-13

We become the planting of the Lord when He plants His seed in our hearts. Such planting can only be done by God; no man can penetrate the heart and create new life within, though a man may be used by God to deliver His seed (that is, His word) to others. Jesus warned us that every plant will be plucked up that is growing among the saints which is not the product of the incorruptible seed of God. But not only so; those intruders into the congregation of God will also be cast into the fire of God’s wrath (Mt. 13:30).

Those who truly delight in the law of God will be like a tree planted by rivers of water; their leaves will not fade, and they will always produce their fruit in the appropriate time (Ps. 1:3). They will be pruned by God, but they will not be discouraged by the pruning. If they stray from righteousness, they may even have dung spread around them (Lk. 13:8), but if they receive that correction from God, they will flourish again and be spared His wrath (Lk. 13:9). In other words, they will receive the chastisement of the Lord and will learn obedience by the things they are made to suffer, just as Jesus did (Heb. 5:8). They will not be called bastards, but sons (Heb. 12:8).

It means everything to be who you are and where you are because of something God has done instead of what you have done. If who you are and where you are is the result of your plans and your choices, it is not eternal; it will not last. You will be moved. But if you are who you are because God’s word came to you and made you who you are, and put you where you are, then there is hope. Abide in that place, and thank God for the opportunity to be a part of something that He has done. It is no small thing to have your life shaped by God’s hand.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another Comforter

"But I have prayed for you ..."
Jesus, in Luke 22:32

"The Spirit prays for us according to the will of God ..."
Paul, in Romans 8:27

When Moses was about to die, he promised Israel that God would raise up a prophet like him from among them. This was Jesus. Likewise, when Jesus was about to die, he promised his disciples that God would send them "another Comforter". This was the holy Spirit.

The Greek word "another" that is used in this verse is a word that means "another of the same kind", not another of a different kind. Jesus was telling his disciples that they would be helped, or comforted, by the Spirit in the same way that he helped, or comforted, them. One example of this is found in th area of prayer.

Both Jesus and the holy Ghost pray for us. Jesus is our advocate with the Father (1Jn.2:1), interceding on our behalf (Heb. 7:25), and the holy Ghost is here within us, interceding for us to the Father (Rom. 8:26).

Even though our minds do not often understand what the holy Ghost is saying when it prays through us, we can rest assured that no one speaking by the Spirit is saying anything bad about Jesus (1Cor. 12:3). That is impossible because God’s Spirit is a Comforter of the same kind Jesus is – for us, not against us.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Strangers and Pilgrims

Then shall two be in the field, the one shall be taken,
and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill,
the one shall be taken, and the other left
Jesus, in Matthew 24:40-41

I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed,
the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
Two women shall be grinding together, the one shall be taken,
and the other left. Two men shall be in the field,
the one shall be taken, and the other left
Luke 17:34-36

Jesus is talking in these two Scriptures about the day he appears in the sky to “catch up” those who have been faithful to him. This event is often referred to as “the Rapture”, even though those words are not found in the Bible. When Jesus appears in the sky, the dead in Christ shall be raised up, and then they and the saints who are yet living will be taken up together to meet the Lord (1Thes. 15-17).

In the two verses above, Jesus is teaching something that is often overlooked; that is, that we need not withdraw ourselves from society in order to be prepared for the Lord’s appearing. You will notice that Jesus said that two women would be working together, but only one would be taken away, and that two men would be working together, “one shall be taken, and the other left”. This tells us that in order to prepare for the Lord’s return need not seclude themselves in caves or communes. Jesus was not a hermit, and neither were any of his disciples. They “mixed it up” with people.

Jesus also mentioned a home scene where there was “two men in one bed, the one shall be taken and the other left.” This teaches us that there is no need to completely detach oneself from unbelievers who are close to them, even relatives living in the same house. It is true that Jesus said he considered his family to be only those who did the will of his heavenly Father (Mt. 12:47-50); at the same time, when Jesus was in agony on the cross, he asked his disciple John to take care of his mother for him (Jn. 19:25-27). This tells us that although Mary was not among those who sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him (in fact, she probably was among Jesus’ relatives who thought he has lost his mind, Mk. 3:21), still he retained his “natural affections” for her and, I suppose, for the rest of his natural relatives. We know that after he ascending to the Father, his mother and his brothers were among those waiting in the upper room for the Promise to be sent (Acts 1:14).

We Cannot Do It

Years ago, the Lord warned me not to try to make myself “a stranger and a pilgrim”, but let him make me different from others because he is the only on who knows how to do that rightly. He told me that those who separate themselves from people are over-religious and are trying to make themselves strangers and pilgrims. And at the same time, he told me that whenever anyone tries to make himself a stranger and a pilgrim, he makes himself strange, but not in a godly way. In fact, he showed me, the harder we try to make ourselves strangers and pilgrims the more over-religious and weird we become. In other words, the harder we try, in our own power and wisdom, to become strangers and pilgrims in this world, the more we fit into it. Only the righteousness of God makes us truly different from this world.

The Lord does not want you to separate yourself from anyone, other than what he leads you to do, and the Scriptures are very plain about who to be separate from. The Lord wants you to trust in him and let him set your standards and be the Separator if there is any separation to be done. You never have to choose your company when you walk in the Spirit; God will choose your company for you.

Paul said that only those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. I say, based on what the Lord has taught me, that those who try to separate themselves from the world only become more a part of it and the longer they stay away from people, the less likely they are to ever become sons of God.