Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NOOK AND CRANNY


Ever been uncomfortable sitting on the couch or lying in bed for a while, then you find that Nook or Cranny that makes you not want to move from that spot? That new position gave you a new appreciation for the struggle you had to get there.

Moses had this same experience. In Exodus 32 we read of The Lord's people impatiently focusing their worship on their handmade Golden Calf. The Lord was not happy and dealt with them severely. Afterward, in Exodus 33, The Lord told Moses it was time to move on; time to aim for the Promised Land. The only catch was that The Lord said, "But I will not go with you because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way." (33:3)

Meanwhile, before the Great Trek to the land flowing with milk and honey - people with an inquiry of The Lord came to the Tent of Meeting that Moses set up outside the camp. Moses would come out of the tent, hear their request, go back into the tent, the Pillar of Cloud would descend at the entrance of the tent and the pre-incarnate Christ would meet face-to-face with him about the inquiry. (33:7-11)

Can you imagine having to inquire on behalf of a million plus people? The line would be never-ending. It is no wonder that Moses said what he said next - Lord if you are not with me or us, then what is the point? (Pritchard Paraphrase) Moses actually said,

"You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” (33:12-13)

Moses does a crafty but effective strategy with The Lord. Moses calls to God's remembrance (1) you were the one who charged me to lead these people, (2) you know me personally, and (3) these are your people. Why remind The Lord of these things? Because of the needs that would follow to fulfill The Lord's plan for his life. Moses said he needed someone sent with him, that someone preferably being The Lord Himself because his next request was to be taught The Lord's ways by The Lord. A clever request, because it worked. The Lord said, "My presence will go with you and I will give you rest." (33:14)

Then, I believe, just to reiterate, Moses makes one of the best, if not the best plea for The Lord's Presence in his life and the life of the people.

"Then Moses said to him, 'If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?'” (33:15-16)

What was the answer to the persistence of Moses? "And the Lord said to Moses, 'I will do the very thing you have asked because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.'” (33:17) However, the experience is taken up a level when Moses boldly asks for The Lord to show him - His Glory.

Evidently, The Lord's Glory is displayed in His face. His splendor and majesty are so great that no human can endure it and live. The Lord said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." (33:20) This means to me that The Lord must have toned-down His Glory, for the lack of a better phrase, in order for Moses to meet with Him face-to-face earlier. Here, instead of the full weight of His Glory upon Moses, The Lord showed Moses His goodness, mercy, compassion and proclaimed His own name - Y'hovah (Jehovah) - I Am, the self-existent or Eternal One.

"And the Lord said, 'I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 'But, he said, 'you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.'” (33:19-20)

Then there came the time where The Lord actually showed Moses this. However, Moses had to be placed in the cleft of some rocks; between a rock and a hard place; in his nook and cranny. It was here that total focus on God's revelation could occur. Nothing could be seen to the left. Nothing could be seen to the right. Then The Lord appeared.

"Then the Lord said, 'There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.'” (33:21-23)

Moses was held and hid in his own cleft of the rock, his own nook and/or cranny to witness The Lord's revelation. However, he had to come to a place of total reliance on The Lord as the Leader and himself as The Lord's voice for The Lord's people. That place usually does not come until we can get some kind of assurance from God that He will go with us - like Moses searched for. For believers, since Christ's ascension, the deposit of The Holy Spirit is this assurance (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7). Now all that remains is for God to unveil His many wondrous facets as He hides you in your Nook And Cranny.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

GOD'S MEMORY


Today, in this writing, I want to re-emphasize to my fellow believers in Christ Jesus the depths of God's Salvation. I know I will only scratch the surface, but I do this for us to gain even more appreciation for Him and to keep a grateful heart before Him.

I have heard it said that journaling is healthy. Whether you are on life's mountaintops, in its valleys or somewhere in between there is truth to this idea of keeping a record of important events or memories. I keep one, but it is not as strict as every day or even every week - just on an as needed basis. 

Although few-and-far-between, there have been times when I have felt slighted, hurt or done wrong. I would journal such things to get the issue off my "chest" (mind) and I would eventually forgive whomever in prayer. However, the situation is now documented in print. Therefore, should I read my diary/journal again I undoubtedly would revisit that hurt. 

God handles His booking-keeping a little differently. Where in my diary there is a percentage of people wanting to be mentioned inside - with God's Diary or Book of Life you definitely want your name engraved.

The topic of Salvation demands that we accept the fact we all need a Savior. Romans 3:23 states everyone's status - "all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God." Then there is the biggest BUT or HOWEVER in history followed by everyone's Saving Grace - Christ Jesus!  

I believe because of humanity's nature to rebel against God from birth and God's sacrifice for everyone's eternal soul - God has everyone's name penciled into The Book of Life. If you reject Christ, your name is erased from The Book of Life at The Great White Throne Judgement and you are sent to your just destination - The Eternal Lake of Fire. However, the decision to accept Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior is what engraves it with His blood! What once was dull on His page comes alive with His blood-ink. "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross." (Colossians 2:13-14) 

Scripture calls God - Love (1 John 4:16). His Word also says that Love covers a multitude of sin or rebellion (1 Peter 4:8). Not only does He take into account every way in which one sins and the number of them ("covers"), Jesus Christ paid the full price for my freedom from them all (Hebrews). So, whenever I mess up as a Christian I can go to Father God in prayer over my mistake(s) and He says, "Forgiven. My Son took care of it."

God is Love in 1 Corinthians 13:5  as it says, "it [love] keeps no record of wrongs". Again, when we wrong God or disobey His Word and then come to our senses, asking for His forgiveness - Psalm 103:12 supports this non-recording by supplying the following image -  "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." 

Micah 7:19 alludes to a phrase used often of our Lord's memory in this situation - The Sea of Forgetfulness - "You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."

Christ's journal of the sins of my life are imprinted on the front cover with the Seal of His Redeeming Blood. On the inside are blank, white as snow pages for Him to write His will upon. God says to us everyday through these Scriptures that what could have gone in your book or on your record is remembered no more. Again, "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Into the Sea of Forgetfulness they go! What the enemy desires to remind you of every day, God says, "Jesus paid it all. I have no recollection of that. Forgiven."

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

GRAFFITI IN HEAVEN


Luke 10:20 records Jesus telling His disciples after they had returned from being sent out - "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (NIV). I also like The Living Bible version - "However, the important thing is not that demons obey you, but that your names are registered as citizens of heaven." I love how Jesus does not dismiss the subjection of demons altogether, He just focuses our attention on the "important thing" - the location of your true citizenship, Heaven.

Christ charges us to "rejoice that your names are written in heaven." So, allow me to elaborate on this a little more. The words "written" or "registered" in the above texts come from the original word Graph0. This word means to write, engrave or to describe. I believe this is where we get the word graffiti

Then there is the word "heaven". The original word used here is Ouranos. This word means air, sky and God's abode. This word derives from another word, Oros, meaning a mountain. You place a mountain in heaven and you get Mount Zion, the Holy Mountain of God. 

So, when we apply the meanings of these words back into the text we might read Luke 10:20 LIKE....It is good that demons are subject to you in my name, but that should not be your focus. The important thing is that you know your names are graffitied all over the Holy Mountain of God in Heaven! 

When many people and Pastors read this verse they tend to end it with "but rejoice that your names are written [in the Lamb's Book of Life]." Although the Lamb's Book of Life is located in Heaven and your name is there if you believe in Christ Jesus - that is not what the text seems to say here, nor portray. What an image! What a love statement - my name, your name graffitied on His Holy Mountain in Heaven because of Christ!

Friday, April 7, 2017

CONSTANTLY COMMUNICATE


One might call a Constant Communicator - a motor mouth! This is someone who never stops talking and you wonder if they ever take a breath to do anything else. Two-way listening and speaking is imperative in a healthy relationship, but this passion of the Constant Communicator is the same kind of passion that 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and Ephesians 6:18 convey.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "pray continually". Ephesians 6:18 states, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." Both say to communicate with God at all times. Paul elaborates to the believers in Ephesus to not only pray with your own heart, mind and prayer list, but with The Spirit and with a variety of matters that come up.

This is the kind of relationship God paid for with His Son's life on The Cross and out of the Grave! This is a relationship of such tight-nit communication that distractions, issues and temptations roll off your back like it hardly happened. Oh, it is definitely something to work on daily. However, the more a Christian can improve in immersing himself/herself in constant prayer/communication with The Lord, the less things with bother him/her.

I can't tell you how many times, as I grew up before the Bluetooth Cellphone Age, that I saw someone on a corner somewhere talking to themselves. I could usually tell they were homeless, poor, frustrated or just trying to talk something out. However, in today's age you never know if someone is actually speaking to another person with a Bluetooth earpiece in their ear or going through a challenging time without one. That imagery, however, is what I believe is to be portrayed here. 

Christians have been given the wonderful, redeemed relationship with God through Christ Jesus. Also through Jesus comes Christ as the believer's Mediator - one who submits on our behalf. As Christians, we can also receive the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives who will help us pray/communicate to Father God when all we have is grunts and groans (Romans 8:26). However, this relationship we have with God is special. Unlike our earthly relationships where we have separation and even solitude at times, with God we are never alone. I believe it is in this mindset of God always desiring for us to be with Him and Him with us - the inescapable God - that we must learn to Constantly Communicate.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

KEEPING THE WINDOWS OF OUR SOUL CLEAN


Ever notice the sparkle Disney movies insert into the eyes of some of their characters to give them a certain emotion? Have you ever actually seen that sparkle in a female's eyes as she is about to become a mom? Or have you seen it in the eyes of a pair who have fallen head-over-heels in love? How about the joy of just a good day pouring out from the eyes of one of your friends? The powerful, communicative effect of our eyes is real. And with this truth comes an awesome responsibility.

How you interpret, process and respond to what you see is the key to Keeping The Windows of Our Soul Clean. William Shakespeare is noted as saying, "The eyes are the windows to our soul." Matthew 6:22 in the New International Version says, "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light." The priceless question is - do you want your whole body to be "full of light"?

Jesus says, "The eye is the lamp of the body." So, our eyes are going to illuminate a lot about us - good, bad or anywhere in between. That is what the original word for "lamp", luchnos, means in this verse - portable lamp, illuminator, and/or candle - literally or figuratively. 

The focus should be on what Jesus said next - "If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light." Even though the word then is not in this sentence, I label it an "If...Then" statement because of its beginnings (If) and consequences. Back to the priceless question - do you want "your whole body full of light"? The phrase "full of light" comes from the original word photeinos meaning a transparent vessel that reveals the well-illuminated space within. "Healthy" or haplous means singular, fixed and/or clear. So, to keep our eyes or vision in this manner is to keep it only on the One True God, fixed on His sacrifice and blessings for all of us and continue to strive for purity with them. The result is the light will be well represented in you - throughout your whole body. The Living Bible Translation of Matthew 6:2 says, "If your eye is pure, there will be sunshine in your soul." If the translation was left up to me I would change "sunshine" to Sonshine!

You see, as soon as we open our eyes from sleep each day, whatever we lay our eyes on is connected to the mind and heart (emotions). Some things we can control what we digest through our vision, other times we cannot. For the times we cannot control our visual environment we must pray that Holy Spirit screens all communications going through and out of our eyes. The Holy Spirit as a Judge and Filter of our visual intake and output will help us shine His light for all the world to see and aid us in Keeping The Windows Of Our Soul Clean.


Monday, April 3, 2017

DESIRES

David pens in Psalm 37:4 - "Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." At first glance, the idea conveyed may portray God as a Genie. Some may think - become a Christian, live a good little life, pray and ask God for anything and He will give it to me. Nope! Here is a better approach at understanding this verse and concept.

"Take delight" (delight thyself) in the original Hebrew is anag (aw-nag) meaning to be soft or pliable. "Desires" in the original Hebrew is mishalah (mish-aw-law) meaning a request or petition. So, the verse could be renderedMake yourself or allow yourself to be pliable in the Lord and He will grant you what you have been petitioning about.

The key is making yourself or allowing yourself to be pliable, softened or moldable by the Master. This includes trusting in Him, His ways and His timing for everything. I never said and He never said this would be easy, but The Holy Spirit through David did say one comes before the other. First, humble thyself - enjoy meditating on His Word, meeting with the saints, going on mission trips, loving others, producing The Fruits of the Spirit, etc..., then your request will be entertained. 

Paul said in Romans 8:5 - "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." In other words, those who live or who are satisfied with the sinful nature (flesh) will not only gravitate toward those things, they will "set" their path or keep their path toward those trappings. The same could be said for those seeking The Holy Spirit. This is paramount in understanding Psalm 37:4. If you want your desires to line-up with God's and all Christians should - we should "set" our minds on what the Spirit desires. How do you do that? By keeping in The Word and staying attentive to His leading.

We are not only in a relationship with a king, we are in a relationship with The King. He knows everything about each of us. He wants His heart in us; His mind in us; His desires in us, so that we have the right petitions, the right requests, the right Desires.