Archive for February, 2010

You Get Both

I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

Leviticus 25:38

In this verse, God tells us that He brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt for two reasons:
1. To give them the land of Canaan.
2. To be their God.

Notice that they didn’t get to pick and choose.  They didn’t get to say “thank you very much for this great land of Canaan, but we really don’t want you to be our God”.  They also didn’t get to say “we appreciate you being a powerful God and helping us and providing for us, but we would really rather go back and live in Egypt”.  He brought them out to give them the land and to be their God.

Sometimes we want to pick and choose what we want out of the Christian life.  We might want God to save us from going to Hell when we die, but we don’t really want anything else.  We might want God to bless us and answer all our prayers, but we don’t want to “go overboard” with obeying Him and doing what He says.  But the truth is, we don’t get to choose.  If we want the Lord, we have to want all of Him.

Refusing Reproof

He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.

Proverbs 10:17

When I was in college, Toby Weaver gave a quote one day in chapel that I wrote down in my Bible: “One of the greatest gauges of a man is how he takes reproof”.  I like that statement because I believe it’s true.  Nobody likes to hear that they are wrong.  Having someone tell us or show us that we are wrong is a stinging blow to our pride and our flesh.  Of course, if we listened to our pride and our flesh, they would tell us that we are always right and never wrong.  Our sinful flesh stiffens at the idea that what it wants is wrong.  Our pride bristles at the thought of there being something or someone around to tell us what to do. 

The dictionary definition of reproof is: “criticism for a fault”.  Reproof, whether it comes from the Bible or someone God has placed in our life, is sometimes difficult to take.  But when we reject reproof, the Bible says we “err”, or do wrong.  Ignoring or rejecting reproof only adds to our problems. 

Instead of rejecting or ignoring reproof when it comes into our lives, we should accept it, change whatever we have been reproved for, and get back in the “way of life”.  The verse also says that “he is in the way of life that keepeth instruction”.  The Lord is pleased when we receive instruction and reproof with humility and correct the problem.  Let’s “walk in the way of life”!

Spending our Lives

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?  hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

Isaiah 55:2

How often do we spend money on things we don’t really need?  I don’t know about you, but for me it is fairly often.  There are times when we will be cleaning out a drawer or a closet or a room and I will come across something that I bought and I will think “what on Earth was I thinking?”.  How often do we work on something that is really quite pointless?  How often do we work hard for something that doesn’t satisfy us?  I dare say that we all probably spend more money, time and effort on pointless things than we would like to admit.  We sometimes get angry with ourselves for spending our money foolishly.  Today, I spent over $1 on these snack cakes at a gas station.  It was a stupid purchase- a waste of my money.  The first one tasted good, but by the time I was halfway through the second one, I was kicking myself for buying them.  But how much worse would it be to spend our lives and our labour for something that is not going to be satisfying in the end?  There is, of course, an answer- “hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good…”.  The Lord counseled the Laodiceans in Revelation to “buy of me gold tried in the fire”.  Listening to the Lord is something that is going to be satisfying all the time.  The end result of that is going to be something that we are going to like.

“Let your soul delight itself in fatness”.  We may not want our bodies to have much “fatness”, but it is a good thing to have a “fat soul”.  A fat soul is one that has more than enough to satisfy it.  It has more than it needs.  Turn to the Lord, follow Him, and listen to Him and you won’t have to worry about spending your life on things that won’t satisfy.  Just as we have only a limited amount of money and don’t want to waste it on things that won’t satisfy us, we also have a limited amout of time on this Earth.  Let us not waste it in pursuit of things that won’t satisfy us.

Delighting In Mercy

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

Micah 7:18

Aren’t you glad we serve a God that “delighteth in mercy”?  Aren’t you glad that we serve a God who does not “retain His anger forever”?  Aren’t you glad we serve a God who “pardoneth iniquity”?  Aren’t you glad we serve a God who “passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage”?  I am very glad we serve a God who is not only merciful but also even delights in mercy.

In answer to the question asked in the first part of the verse, “Who is a God like unto thee…?”- there is no God like Thee!  There is no God like our God who would pardon our iniquity.  There is no God like our God who would pass by our transgressions.  There is no God like our God who would delight in mercy.

Sometimes we get the idea that God delights in judgment.  It is true that God must judge sin.  But God does not delight in judgment; He delights in mercy.  He delights in mercy so much that He sent His only Son to take away our sin.  He delights in mercy so much that He laid out all the judgment for every one of our sins on His beloved Son Jesus.  Micah 6:8 tells us that the Lord wants us to “love mercy”.  When we see how much God delights in mercy and how far Jesus went to provide a way for God to show us mercy, how can we help but love it!

Fearing or Despising

Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.

Proverbs 13:13

This is a fairly straightforward verse that, at first glance, doesn’t require much thought.  But there are two words in the verse that are best not skimmed over: “despiseth” and “feareth”.  Despising and fearing are both inward emotions.  But inward emotions result in outward actions.

“Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed”.  How do we despise God’s Word?  As Christians, we would never actually come out and declare that we despise the Word of God.  In fact, we wouldn’t even let that thought run though our minds.  But how often do we ignore it?  How often do we not obey it?  Those questions are a little more difficult.  We can indeed despise God’s Word very easily if we aren’t careful.

“He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded”.  Again, as Christians, I’m sure we would all say that we fear the Lord.  But a true fear produces actions.  If we really read and study His Word and have a fear of His commandments, there are things that we will do and things we won’t do.  That fear will produce actions. 

I fear snakes.  This fear, rational or not, produces action whenever I see one of them.  I don’t ignore snakes, nor do I play around with them.  When I see one, I either run away from the snake or I kill the snake.  True fear is always going to produce some form of action.  When we truly fear the Lord’s commandments, we are going to do our best to follow them and obey them. 

Of course, this verse also gives the results of the two courses of action: be destroyed or be rewarded.  The end result is dependent on the course of action taken.  If you want to be destroyed, despise His Word.  If you want to be rewarded, fear His commandments!

Greatly to be Feared

God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him.

Psalm 89:7

You would think that the people who need to be fearing the Lord would be the people who are “living out in sin”.  You would think that the unsaved, wicked, worldly person would be the one in need of the fear of the Lord.  But the Bible says something a little different in this verse.  It says that He is “greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints” and is to be held in reverence of “them that are about Him”. 

Those closest to the Lord should be the ones who have the greatest fear of Him and the highest reverence for Him.  The closer we get to the Lord, the more we see His holiness and our wickedness.  The closer we get to the Lord, the more we see just how desperately we need Him.  The fear of the Lord should be the most profound in those closest to Him.

There is coming a day when “every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God”. (Romans 14:11)  The wicked will eventually see the holiness of God and they will eventually fear Him and reverence Him.  But we should be getting a glimpse of His holiness even now, through His Word.  That small glimpse of Him that we can get should be enough to cause us to have a great reverential fear of Him and it should be enough to drive us to Him for mercy.

Whiter Than Snow

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7

I am writing this in the midst of a nice sized Iowa snowstorm.  I understand that most people don’t like snow and even most of those who do are tired of it because we have had so much of it this winter.  I, on the other hand, like snow.  Every time we get a new snowfall, I think of this verse and the beautiful imagery it provides.  “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”  What an amazing thought. 

As I look out at our snow covered landscape, I know that somewhere beneath the snow is dirt and grass and things like that.  But I can’t see them.  In fact, I’m not even exactly sure what is underneath most of snow with all of the drifts.  We all have “dirt” in our lives.  We have all sinned and “come short of the glory of God”.  But the Lord Jesus can “wash us and we will be whiter than snow”.  He covers us with a pure white blanket of His own righteousness.  Those filthy, black sins and all that dirt and mire are seen no more- only the beautiful righteousness of Jesus Christ. 

If we don’t like snow for any other reason, at least let it make us think of all that the Lord has done for us in cleansing us and making us “whiter than snow”!

Good to Give Thanks

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night…

Psalm 92:1-2

If the Lord has been good to us, we should be thanking Him and praising Him.  Of course, that is a silly statement: “IF the Lord as been good to us”?  The Lord has been very, very good to every one of us.  The Psalmist says here “it is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name”.  It is good for us to thank Him and praise Him for all He has done for us.  In verse 2, it is also good for us to “shew forth His lovingkindness and His faithfulness”. 

Since the Lord has obviously been good to us and faithful to us and has loved us, we should thank Him, praise Him and tell others of the great things He has done.  Thanking the Lord deals with letting Him know that we are grateful for what He has done.  Praising the Lord deals with letting others around us know that we are grateful for what he has done.  Everyone around us should know for certain that the Lord has been good to us and that we are grateful for it. 

Praising the Lord with a spirit of thankfulness is always a “good thing”!

An Amazing Offer

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Isaiah 55:1

“Every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters”.  Are we thirsty?  Are we really thirsty for the Word of God and for the Lord?  If we are, we are invited to come.  We are invited to drink in all we need.  Revelation 21:6 says “…I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely”.  If you thirst for something more in your life, if you thirst for wisdom, if you thirst for understanding- come ye to the waters!  There is a song I’ve heard that says “come to the water, there is a vast supply…There is a river that never shall run dry”.  We don’t have to go on spiritually dry and thirsty- we can come to the water!

“…he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat”.  How can we buy if we have no money”?  Simple answer- Jesus paid it all!  We can eat all we will.  John 6:35- “…I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger”.  If we have nothing, if we are hungry for something but have nothing to offer in return- we are in the perfect position to accept this offer!  The offer is not extended to those who have plenty of “money” and aren’t really in need of anything.  The offer is extended to those who have nothing.  Another good song says “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling”. 

What a great verse and what a great truth!  There is no reason to continue on in spiritual hunger and thirst- He is able to satisfy us to the fullest!  What a great offer- we have only to take Him up on it!

Righteousness and Peace

Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Psalm 85:10

Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.

Psalm 89:14-15

When you think about it, the things mentioned in these verses don’t usually go together.  In Psalm 85:10, mercy and truth are met together and righteousness and peace have kissed each other.  Righteousness is not something that we can produce- “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).  As for peace, “there is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked”.  Righteousness is far from our grasp and peace comes only with righteousness.  Psalm 89:14 tells us that mercy and truth shall go before His face.  The truth is that we are sinners who deserve absolutely nothing from a Holy and Just God.  Justice and judgment demand payment for sin, and the wages of sin is death.  These concepts are infinitely far apart for fallen man.  There is no way for us to reconcile ourselves to a Holy God.

Except for Jesus.  In the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.  We are at peace with God through His righteousness.  The justice and judgment of a Holy God have been carried out by Jesus on the cross.  He is able to give mercy because He IS the way the truth and the life. 

These seeming contradictions are beautifully joined together in Christ.  In verse 15, the Psalmist says “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound…”  We are truly blessed to know the joyful sound of Romans 5:8:  “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  We are blessed to know the joyful sound of Psalm 32: 1: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered”.  We are blessed to know the joyful sound of Isaiah 38:17: “…thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back”.  We are truly blessed.  Let us be thankful to the Lord for bringing righteousness and peace and  mercy and truth together in our lives!