Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Our Dwelling Place

O LORD, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.”
Psalm 90:1
God is our dwelling place.  If anybody asks a child of God where he lives, he can truthfully answer “in God”, for “in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28), and outside of God, there is no life at all, just darkness and death.  Likewise, when asked where my congregation meets, I sometimes say, “in Christ”.  God’s children come together only in Him, for outside of God and His Son, there is only division and strife.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Death’s Good Purpose

You turn man to destruction, and say, Repent, you children of men!
Psalm 90:3

God has turned us all over to death, and there is no escape.  “It is appointed to men once to die” (Heb. 9:27), and “there is no discharge in that war” (Eccl. 8:8).  Nothing God’s beloved Son did for us changed that awful curse on the human race.
But God did not leave us hopeless; He said, “Repent!”  That is, the curse of death does not fall on us as soon as we are born; we are given time to fear and to turn to God and receive forgiveness of sin before we die.  God’s curse of death has a good purpose!  It was to instill fear in us, to sober us up, and motivate us to seek the God who had cursed us.  All wise men take advantage of that precious opportunity to prepare their souls for the day of their death.
What the Son did was to provide eternal relief from the fear of death (Heb. 2:15).  His baptism of our spirits creates in us a fellowship with God that takes away the fear of death (1Cor. 15:55).  Receiving Christ’s baptism of life puts an end to death’s dominion because it transforms us from being mere humans, cursed by God, to being children of God, blessed forever with the Son.
God’s curse of death is still on all humans; the Son could not change that.  But he could change us into new creatures that are not under that curse.  If you are still human, do what God says and repent.  If you are a “new creature in Christ Jesus”, rejoice!  You have been promised eternal life!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Faithfulness in Heaven

You shall establish your faithfulness in the very heavens.”
Psalm 89:2b

Why would God even have to establish His faithfulness in heaven?  Wouldn’t it always have been established in heaven?
Not if evil was allowed in heaven as well as good, which was the case before Jesus, the Son of God, was glorified to sit at the Father’s right hand and Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven.  From that day, God’s faithfulness was forever established in heaven, and all unfaithfulness was forever forbidden to enter.
Those among God’s children who are unfaithful to Christ will never behold the face of their heavenly Father because faithfulness is now the standard for all who stand in His presence.  Only those who were “called, and chosen, and faithful” will stand in God’s presence and see His face.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Price of the Truth

You have put away my acquaintance far from me;
you have made me an abomination to them.   I am shut up,
and I cannot come forth.  Lover and friend have you put far from me,
and my acquaintance into darkness.”
Psalm 88:8, 18

Loving the truth in Christ comes at a price.  Perhaps the hardest price to pay is that of lonely, reasonless ostracism and a cold contempt for your life and your feelings.  Jesus said that men would cast you out from their company if you loved him.  He knew.  Men cast him out for loving his Father.
The truth is an abomination to those who do not love it, and if you do love it, you will become an abomination to them, too, just as Jesus was.  Prepare your heart to pay the price of the truth.  In the long run, the truth is well worth the painful price you will pay.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Born in Zion

And of Zion it shall be said, ‘This and that man was born in her,’
and the highest Himself shall establish her.
The Lord shall note, when He writes up the people,
‘This man was born there.’
Psalm 87:5–6

Zion was a part of ancient Jerusalem, located on the northern end of the city where the temple stood.  In the Old Testament, an Israelite did not need to be born in Zion to belong to God; he could be born anywhere and still be one of God’s people.  In this New Covenant, however, only those born in Zion belong to God because in this covenant, Zion is a spiritual place.  It is the body of Christ, the Assembly of God.
Isaiah promised that the Lord would call Zion by a new name, and when He sent Jesus, Jesus renamed Zion.  He called it “my Assembly” (Mt. 16:18).  The only way to enter into the Assembly of God, the new Zion, is to be spiritually born into it.  This is why it was prophesied that “This and that man was born in her.” 
  Natural, human birth does not put anyone into Zion; only a spiritual birth.  And this is why Jesus said, “You must be born again.”  On the day of Pentecost, about 120 followers of Jesus, who had already been born naturally, were born again and entered into God’s new Zion, just as Isaiah had foretold: “Zion travailed; she brought forth her children” (Isa. 66:8).
Have you been “born there” yet?  Remember, Jesus said, “You MUST be born again.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

First Things First

I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know me.
Psalm 87:4

If you want to understand the mysteries of the invisible kingdom of God, you must get to know Jesus first.  As he said in the scripture above, he reveals those kind of things only “to those who know me.
You do not need to know all the mysteries of the Bible; you need only come to know Jesus.  When you have done that, Jesus will add to you all the knowledge of prophecy and other hidden things that you need, when you need it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A United Heart

Unite my heart to fear your name.
I will praise you, O LORD my God, with all my heart.”
Psalm 86:11–12

You can praise God with all your heart only when nothing from another god is in it.  A divided heart is a heart that believes some of what God says and some of what another god says, too.
Most of God’s people believe things Jesus said, but their heart is divided by faith in what one of Christianity's gods says, too.  Whether it be a lie from the Baptist god, or from the Methodist god, or the Catholic god, or the Pentecostal god, or one of the many others, it divides the heart.  It divides one’s faith between the true God and another one.
A “united heart” is a heart that believes nothing but what God says.  Only those whose hearts have been purged by the truth from everything false can glorify God with their whole heart.  They may glorify God most of the time, but part of their hearts still belong to the god who taught them the lies they believe.
To pray for a united heart is to pray to know all the truth.  May God give each of us a united heart so that we will praise Him with all our hearts!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lifting Up the Soul

Unto you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”
Psalm 86:4

   You “lift up your soul” to whatever you pray to and trust in.  It is essential that when we pray and trust, we pray and trust in the living God instead of one of the gods that the religions of men offer.  To trust in and pray to those gods is to lift up your soul to nothing, and there is no hope of salvation in such gods:
   “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity.” (Ps. 24:3–5).

Monday, August 15, 2016

Blessed by Death

Yea, the sparrow has found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young, even your altars,
O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.”
Psalm 84:3

David thought that the animals were honored which were sacrificed on God's altar.  He was right.
In this covenant, we, not animals, are honored to die.  And this time, the death is death with Christ to this world and its ways.  Paul rejoiced in it:
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live.  Yet, not I, but Christ is living in me; and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).
But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).
And Paul exhorted us to follow him into the very great honor of this death to sin and self:
I entreat you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1).
Only the sweet Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, could make death a blessing.  But in him, everything is good, and if we are in him, even dying is desirable.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Judging among the Gods

God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods.
Psalm 82:1

I have said, ‘You are gods,’ and all of you are children of the most High.”
Psalm 82:6

People in the world cannot judge God’s children any more than they can judge the cherubim in heaven.  If there arose a controversy between two cherubim, how foolish would it be for one of them to ask a human judge to decide which cherubim was in the right?  Humans know nothing of cherub life.  But it is even more foolish than that for God’s children to go to the world for judgment because the life they have from God is more foreign to this world than cherubim life is.
Only God can rightly judge among His people, and through the Spirit, His judgments are made known to them.  This is why Paul condemned certain believers in Corinth who had taken other believers to court: “I say this to your shame.  Is it really so, that there is not a single wise man among you, one who is able to judge between his brothers?  Instead, brother goes to court against brother, and that before unbelievers! Therefore, you have already suffered complete defeat because you are filing lawsuits against each other.  Why not rather be wronged?  Why not rather be cheated?” (1Cor. 6:5–7).
It is ungodly for a believer to sue another believer in a human court.  Jesus said the Assembly of believers is the final authority in settling disputes among God’s children (Mt. 18:17).  And the reason some believers despise the judgment of God’s Assembly and go to a court in this world instead is that they know that they are in the wrong, but they want the world to tell them they are right.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

When Not To Pray

Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”
Isaiah 55:6

Prayer can be useless.
When Esau realized that he had played the fool when he sold his birthright to Jacob his brother, “he found no place of repentance, even though he earnestly sought it with tears” (Heb. 12:17).

Prayer can get you into a lot of trouble.
Balaam knew what God wanted him to do (Num. 22:12), but Balaam wanted to do something else.  So, he asked God again, and God gave him what he wanted, and Balaam lost his soul.

Prayer can cause you to be hurt by your enemies.
At the Red Sea, with the Egyptians on Israel’s heels, Moses paused to pray.  God said, “What are you talking to me for?  Tell my people to get up and get moving before the Egyptians get them!” (Ex. 14:15).

Prayer can be a substitute for action.
Joshua was stunned and afraid.  The army of Israel – God’s army! – had just suffered defeat at the hands of the Canaanites.  How could that have happened?  Joshua and the elders fell on their faces and cried out to God, totally distraught and full of dread for what might happen next to Israel.  But God rebuked Joshua, saying in effect, “Get up!  Why are you wallowing on the ground like that?  There is sin in the camp!  Now, get up and get it out!” (Josh. 7:10–11).

Prayer can be sin.
Every time a disobedient child of God prays, he is sinning.  The prayer of a stubborn person is an abomination to God (Prov. 28:9).  “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Prov. 15:29).
The only right time to pray is when God will hear it.  Prayers made at any other time are a waste of time, or worse.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

If We Listen

Listen, my people, and I will testify against you, O Israel!
If you were listening to me, there would be in you no strange god;
nor would you bow down to a foreign god.”
Psalm 81:8b–9
God’s people are freed from the influence of every evil spirit when they listen to God and do what He says.  Evil spirits cannot dwell with righteousness.
How many blessings are missed because of disobedience!  God was deeply grieved at the good things His children were missing out on because they would not obey Him:
My people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me.  So I gave them over to their own hearts’ lust, and they walked in their own counsels.  Oh, that my people had hearkened to me, and Israel had walked in my ways!  I would soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. . . .  He also would have fed them with the finest of the wheat, and with honey out of the rock would I have satisfied you” (Ps. 81:11–14, 16).

Sunday, August 7, 2016

“Speaking against God”

They spoke against God.  They said,
‘Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?
Behold, He smote the rock, that the waters gushed out,
and the streams overflowed.
Can He give bread also?  Can He provide meat for His people?’
Therefore, the LORD heard this, and was angry.”
Psalm 78:19–21a

Israel was traveling through the hot wilderness that lies between Egypt and the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.  They were hungry, and when they complained to Moses, Moses took their complaint to God, who then promised to provide them with more meat – there in that desolate wilderness! – than they would be able to eat.  That is when they “spoke against God”.
They spoke against God by saying, in effect, that He worked miracles in the past, but no longer did such things.  They remembered His miracle of providing water at Mount Sinai, but had no faith for today.
Have you ever heard people speak against God like that?  Have you ever heard people say that God spoke in tongues through the disciples, but He no longer does such things?  It does not glorify God to say He once did great things, but that He no longer does them.
It is very instructive to note that the Bible teaches that to say that God used to do miracles but that He no longer does them is to “speak against God”.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Old Stories Were Parables

I will open my mouth in a parable.  I will utter dark sayings of old,
which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.”
Psalm 78:2–3

This is the Son of God talking through the prophet, stating that he will do two things at the same time.  He will speak in parables, but with those parables, he will be repeating familiar stories that had been told in Israel for generations.  When Jesus spoke of Jonah being in the whale’s belly for three days, he was doing this.  The story of Jonah was a familiar story in Israel, but it was, at the same time, a parable of Jesus being in the “belly” of the earth for three days.
Jesus also spoke of Abraham, Moses, David, and others.  All those ancient stories were familiar to Israel, but they were also mysteries, parables if you will, which no one had ever understood – not even Abraham, Moses, or David.
Jesus came to show us the knowledge of God.  Part of that knowledge was that every ancient story had been designed by God as a parable of His hidden Son.  The Son was God’s “second Adam”; he was Abraham's Isaac, the beloved sacrifice; he was Moses’ “prophet like unto me”; and he was the son of David who would sit on the throne forever.  And he was the meaning behind countless other ancient stories as well.
From the foundation of the world, men of God had prophesied of the coming Son of God, but Jesus revealed that those men themselves were symbols of him.  Their lives, directed by God, also prophesied of him.  When Jesus told those ancient stories, it was the first time in history that they have been told the way they were intended by God to be understood.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Only in Judah; Only in the Spirit

In Judah is God known. . . .
In Jerusalem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.”
Psalm 76:1a–2

These simple truths came as a revelation from God to David, and we assume that everyone in Israel believed them to be true.  But in David’s time, only a small percentage of Israelites did.
To be sure, the Israelites believed that God could be known in the tribe of Judah, but they did not believe what David meant by that statement; to wit, God had chosen Judah as the only place where He would make Himself known.  Nevertheless, it was true, for if an issue arose in Israel that no one could resolve, the people had to go to Jerusalem in Judah, the place where God’s high priest was, to learn God’s answer.
Likewise, when David said that God’s earthly dwelling place was Mount Zion in Jerusalem, he meant God’s only earthly dwelling place was in Jerusalem.  The false teachers of that time responded, “God is everywhere!” and most of Israel followed them.  David, of course, knew that God was everywhere, but it had been revealed to him that God had chosen Jerusalem as the one place on earth where He would dwell in a temple.
Because only a few in Israel believed David, it was easy for Absalom, and after him a man named Sheba, to persuade the vast majority of Israelites to rebel against David as their king.  And when David was dead, the tribes in the north rebelled and separated themselves permanently from Judah and Jerusalem.
Today, few among God’s people believe a different revelation, just as true and simple as the one God gave David.  This revelation says that God is known in the Spirit, instead of “God is known in Judah.”  God’s people today agree that God can be known in the Spirit, but as in David’s time, they cannot agree that the Spirit is the only way one knows God.  They have been persuaded to believe that souls also “come to know the Lord” by “getting saved”, without receiving, or being baptized with, the Spirit.
In David’s time, it was Judah and Jerusalem; now it is the body of Christ and the Spirit.  Israel’s downfall was the result of denying that God had chosen Jerusalem as the one place on earth where He would be known.  What will be the result of modern saints’ refusal to believe that only by the Spirit can one come to know God?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

An Influence for Good

Remember this, that the enemy has reproached, O LORD,
and that the foolish people have blasphemed your name. . . .
Rise up, O God!  Plead your own cause!
Remember how the foolish man reproaches you every day.
Forget not the voice of your enemies; the tumult of those
who rise up against you increases continually.
Psalm 74:18, 22–23

I found myself praying these same things recently when I remembered seeing certain famous entertainers mock God, using vile language as they did so.  I called their names out to God, appealing to Him to show His power again so that His Son’s name would be honored again by men.
A body of Christ without miracle-working power, such as the body of Christ is at this time in history, is an invitation to the world to blaspheme the name of Jesus.  The body of Christ is supposed to act like salt, preserving society from going bad as quickly as it will without that salt.  But a body of Christ without power has no preserving influence on society.  When the world sees a body of Christ without the power of God, such as the body of Christ is at this time in history, it thinks there is no reason to fear our God.
The next time we hear a news report about how bad matters are among the nations, instead of just shaking our heads and criticizing the world, let’s get alone with God and ask for the power to be an influence for good.  We do not want God to see us as part of the reason the world is in as bad a condition as it is in.  We want Him to see us as “faultless and innocent, children of God, without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation” (Phip. 2:15).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Judgments Produce Fear, and Godliness

You caused judgment to be heard from heaven.  The earth feared,
and was still, when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth.”
Psalm 76:8–9

The fierce judgment of God alone can make this hedonistic world pause in its reckless pursuit of pleasure. “The fear of God is clean,” and even sinners, when they feel it, keep themselves cleaner than they would otherwise do.
Pray for God’s judgments to be revealed from heaven.  And pray to survive them when they are.

Monday, August 1, 2016

God Puts Down and Sets Up

Promotion comes neither from the east,
nor from the west, nor from the south.
But God is the judge.  He puts down one, and sets up another.”
Psalm 75:6–7
Stay out of politics.  People vote, but God alone decides.  Daniel warned King Nebuchadnezzar that God was about to make him “know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will” (Dan. 4:25).
Leave this world’s politics to God, and concentrate on being a godly influence on your family, friends, and associates.  If you accomplish that, you will have fulfilled your purpose in this life.