He is still God in the night

Life is easy when everything is going our way, but when we get that call from the emergency room and it’s our loved one…

I pleaded with the Lord through my tears as I drove from Campobello to Pelham to find out what was going on with my mommy. Yes, my mommy. Not just my mom, but MY MOMMY. Yes, I reminded Him of His sweet love for His own dear mother, and I realized how cold and impersonal pain can be when it is “close but not that close”. I realized that my prayers on behalf of others had not been as heartfelt and loving as they could have been, and I repented not as some manipulative deal with the Lord to get my way, but as a very personal and revealing realization about what my faith, my love, even my trust in the Lord comes down to when my back is against the wall. And I was humbled, oh was I humbled.

And the Lord was there the whole time. He had a plan and a purpose, and my mom, dad, and I spent time talking together in that ER room like we haven’t talked in a long time. And those were precious hours, not because they were final hours, because mom will be discharged soon. But because the busy hum of life slowed down long enough to remind us about so many important things.

I had so many pastor friends praying for us tonight and genuinely concerned about what we were going through. They were ready to leave their families to come to the hospital to be with me and mine. And having been on their side of it, having ministered to beloved friends over the past several years when they were in the hospital – I was now on the other side for the first time, and I saw how much comfort and peace came from not being in this “alone”. And they won’t get any awards or great accolades for taking those late night calls, for wetting the floor with their heartfelt prayers on behalf of others, nor do I think any of them would want them. But I’m so grateful for them, and I hope that you too are sowing into and building relationships with folks who won’t run and hide when the wolves come, but who will stand and fight – on their knees, and with arms wide open, and with shoulders to cry on, and hugs to envelope you.

I’m so thankful that my mom’s walking out of that emergency room was not contingent upon me “having enough faith” because when Hambone text me back asking if there was anything I needed as I drove tearfully towards the hospital, I answered truthfully, “I need more faith. Lord, heal my unbelief!” I’m thankful that Christ is suffering and that He is good whether He is giving or taking away. I don’t know why in one case a family faces absence from their loved one and another finds healing. I’m just not smart enough to have it all figured out. But I was praising Him and singing His name as I drove on, so there was some deep seated trust coming from a place that I can’t take credit for myself.

You see, I wasn’t alone in the valley — I never was alone. He has always been with me, since the beginning. I may have not listened to Him at times, and I may have even acted as His enemy and played the role of the Prodigal son worthy of an academy award — but He has always been faithful and true.

Thank you, Lord, for giving my mommy more time to love and serve you by continuing to live and serve others — driven by the same Holy Spirit you have placed, ignited, stirred in me. We are in awe of you, mighty God, Good Father, Holy Holy Holy. Amen.

Life Ain’t Always Beautiful

Sometimes it’s just plain hard…

I have learned to trust the Word of God, and if you know that it is true, let’s look at His promises, His encouragement, His guidance for us in those “hard times”:

James 1:12 ESV

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Philippians 4:6-8 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Romans 8:31 ESV

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:18 ESV

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:28 ESV

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Psalm 50:15 ESV

And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Joshua 1:9 ESV

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

John 16:33 ESV

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Psalm 62:2 ESV

He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

But some may say to themselves, “I do not know that I can trust the Word of God. How do I know that it is true or false? What if it is just trickery, another way away up by men to control my mind and subject me to their will?”

And if this is you, if you are a doubter — if you are not yet a true believer in the “whole counsel of the Word of God”, I ask you if you have treated and examined it in your heart? Have you read the Bible from beginning to end while praying and asking, “God, if you are real, reveal yourself to me through the words.”

Or is the “foolishness” of wasting precious hours of your life that you know for sure — not with interesting to discover about the eternity that you might be missing out on? I would think that even the most practical and pragmatic man, driven by the scientific method, would want to gather all of the evidence to himself avoiding any bias or preconceived notion. For if I am wrong in serving the Lord, I have wasted time living, serving, encouraging and helping others instead of focusing on myself. But if the atheist is wrong, he has wasted his all of eternity on a fleeting breath in this life.

Is it easy to believe?

Not by my flesh alone it isn’t.

Is it easy to choose to die to your own passions and desires to instead seek the will of God?

If I was solely under the power of my own will, it would be an impossibility.

But He doesn’t say to come, believe, get your heaven ticket, and then go back — or even to “give it your best shot” from here forward.

No He says something quite miraculous.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
John 4:13‭-‬15 ESV

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
John 7:37‭-‬39 ESV

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
John 3:3‭-‬21 ESV

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:15‭-‬27 ESV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Fire and Rain

If you’ve lived long enough, you’ve seen seasons of fire and seasons of rain in your life. Easier times and harder times. Times where you felt dashed against the rocks and times when the wind was full in your sails…

I look around me, and I see people in all kinds of different circumstances of life. For some, there are baby bumps, diapers, teaching little ones to walk and talk. And for others, there is taking care of elderly parents, dealing with death, dealing with sickness and suffering.

And it doesn’t always stay in the “expected order” of death only coming with old age. I even see parents younger than us dealing with the loss of children.

I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬8 ESV

Yes, there is fire and there is rain. Sometimes the rain seems to fall down along our cheeks — salty drops flowing seemingly endlessly from our eyes — because the fiery tribal seems so much more than we might even bear.

The song we sang says,

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus,
You’ve got to help me make a stand.
You’ve just got to see me through another day.
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way.

It reminds me of:

In my own life, I can tell you that I’ve seen the Lord at work. I’ve seen Him carry me through obstacles, and I’ve seen Him rain down blessings. And sometimes the true and lasting blessings come down in the tears, in the building of a testimony, in the building of endurance and faith, preparing me so that my trial might help me be there for someone else during theirs. It’s a beautiful thing, this tapestry, this beautiful handiwork of the Lord.

Together In the Tent

Laying here in a tent just outside the gates of Carowinds at “Camp Wilderness” with my daughter as the temperature begins to drop and as she sleeps peacefully wrapped up in her fleece pjs, sleeping bag, and blanket — and I’m amazed at how returning to a simpler way of life has proven to be so enjoyable for the two of us.

We had a blast seeing up the tent together and getting everything squared away. It wasn’t a chore, but wad something fun that we were able to do together, and she was great at it! And this wad much different than the two times wee have captured in the back yard where mommy could bring us anything we wanted. But we still had electricity and running water this time, so she wants to go camping up in the mountains next. Wow! I’m loving this!

And even so, we looked at the little pop up campers near us and realized the set up and tear down time that they save versus a “real tent” like ours — and we were already making grand plans for “some day”. Lol.

I’m just thankful for the bonds that are being strengthened, the memories being built, the foundations being laid in her childhood so that maybe I can be there with her through more than just cold mornings in a tent during her childhood — but maybe also trying times through adolescence and beyond.

And I pray that she sees in my life, not just my words — this dwelling place that we have with the Lord that od’s greater than any house or home built by the hands of men. And I pray that you do as well. And I pray that I never forget. Amen.

2 Corinthians 5:1-5 ESV

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

Give Me Jesus

I love this song. Some songs have a depth of doctrine and teaching in them that will satisfy the most pharisaic of Pharisees, while others express the simple awe of the redeemed whore washing Jesus’s feet with her hair. This song is of the latter kind.

You’ll find in this song that few words are spoken, and that it isn’t a “teaching song” by most men’s standards — but that it is an “awe and wonder” song — which should in fact, teach us about those “weightier matters of the law” by way of the Holy Spirit. One who is not hardened and leavened — one who is fully relying on Christ alone and not resting in any sense of accomplishment, status, or self- righteousness should find that the heart cries out and the spirit speaks in wordless groanings when this praise is lifted in Spirit and in Truth.

In the morning

So let’s take a closer look at its content:

“In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus”

Oh, how beautiful and wonderful the mornings are when we rise with our Jesus close by our side. And how strong our longing can be when we feel that we have risen somehow “far and away” from our precious Lord. But either way, don’t we long for Him even closer, even as the deer panteth for water, don’t we thirst for that precious fount of living water?

Do you long for the Lord with your waking breath? It will be so with your daily life as well, especially in those awakening moments of fiery trial that appear unexpectedly. And so it will be for you on the day of the Lord. Are you ready?

Mark 1:35 ESV

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

Psalm 119:147 ESV

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Psalm 88:13 ESV

But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you

Psalm 143:8 ESV

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

So, we have addressed the first fruits of our day — our morning — and now we will look onward to our true worship — to the song that we will sing about what truly is first in our life today.

Just Jesus

The lyrics continue:

“You can have all this world
Just give me Jesus”

Yes, the busy distractions of this world offer us many idols to choose from — and will we say “Give me the world and a side order of Jesus!” Or will we say, “Just give me Jesus!” And if we say it, do we mean it? What if health, prosperity, reputation, loved ones, freedom — what if these were taken from us, would we still cry out “JUST give me Jesus!”

The existence of that word JUST cannot be ignored, or one of us — even you, even me — might miss the whole point of this type of praise altogether.

James 4:4
You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.

Alone

The lyrics continue:

“Oh, when I am alone
Give me Jesus”

And when we have turned away from the world, when our proclaiming the Gospel so boldly, loudly, and seemingly foolishly has left us with “nary a one left behind” and it seems we are alone in our solitude and our silence — isn’t it there in that humbled, surrendered silence that He is truly found?

Psalms 46:10‭ NLT

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

Lord, teach us that a multitude of words and teaching and movement and activity doesn’t always leave us much time for the awe and wonder and faith that pleases you.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12:28‭-‬29 ESV

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38‭-‬42 ESV

Additional Reading
https://www.esv.org/Matthew+26:6%E2%80%9313;Mark+14:3%E2%80%939;Luke+7:36%E2%80%9350;John+12:1%E2%80%938/#

New Clothes

Last night as my 7 year old daughter was getting ready to go to to Spout (our church’s Wednesday night program for kids), and as her mother and I were getting ready for the Bible study that we have in our home during that same time — Mia pointed out a hole in the crotch of her leggings. Without hesitation, I told her that she “couldn’t go out like that”. In her innocence, she was both surprised and disappointed, wanting to pout because she loved the outfit she was already wearing. But Mia took them off, mommy grabbed her skewing kit, and we had them back on her “good as new” before she headed out the door.

And like many things these days, this teachable moment reminded me of scripture.

My daughter would be oblivious to the importance of clean clothes that aren’t torn to shreds or that don’t cover her body properly if her mother and I weren’t there to teach, guide, and help her. Just as many of us would be oblivious to the importance of godly living if we weren’t indwelt by the Holy Spirit of Christ in us. We would still be just as hopelessly wandering through the darkness, ignorant of the sad state of our being, maybe even mad if anything made us aware of our pitiful state, ready to pout and pitch a fit rather than see ourselves cleaned up and set on the right path.

I thought about it and looked it up to find that there are a lot of verses in the Bible about washing or mending clothes. From looking in the Old Testament alone, we can find verses like these (and many more):

Exodus 19:10
The LORD also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments;

Exodus 19:14
So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments.

Leviticus 6:27
‘Anyone who touches its flesh will become consecrated; and when any of its blood splashes on a garment, in a holy place you shall wash what was splashed on.

Leviticus 11:25
and whoever picks up any of their carcasses shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 11:28
and the one who picks up their carcasses shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening; they are unclean to you.

Leviticus 11:40
‘He too, who eats some of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening, and the one who picks up its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 13:6
“The priest shall look at him again on the seventh day, and if the infection has faded and the mark has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a scab. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean.

Leviticus 13:34
“Then on the seventh day the priest shall look at the scale, and if the scale has not spread in the skin and it appears to be no deeper than the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean; and he shall wash his clothes and be clean.

Leviticus 14:8
“The one to be cleansed shall then wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe in water and be clean Now afterward, he may enter the camp, but he shall stay outside his tent for seven days.

Leviticus 14:9
“It will be on the seventh day that he shall shave off all his hair: he shall shave his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair. He shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water and be clean.

Leviticus 14:47
“Likewise, whoever lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house shall wash his clothes.

Leviticus 15:5-8
‘Anyone, moreover, who touches his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening;

Leviticus 15:10-11
‘Whoever then touches any of the things which were under him shall be unclean until evening, and he who carries them shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15:13
‘Now when the man with the discharge becomes cleansed from his discharge, then he shall count off for himself seven days for his cleansing; he shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in running water and will become clean.

Leviticus 15:17
‘As for any garment or any leather on which there is seminal emission, it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15:21
‘Anyone who touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15:22
‘Whoever touches any thing on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15:27
‘Likewise, whoever touches them shall be unclean and shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 16:26
“The one who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp.

Leviticus 16:28
“Then the one who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water, then afterward he shall come into the camp.

Leviticus 17:15
“When any person eats an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or an alien, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening; then he will become clean.

Numbers 8:7
“Thus you shall do to them, for their cleansing: sprinkle purifying water on them, and let them use a razor over their whole body and wash their clothes, and they will be clean.

Numbers 8:21
The Levites, too, purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes; and Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the LORD. Aaron also made atonement for them to cleanse them.

Numbers 19:7
‘The priest shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward come into the camp, but the priest shall be unclean until evening.

Numbers 19:8
‘The one who burns it shall also wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water, and shall be unclean until evening.

Numbers 19:10
‘The one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening; and it shall be a perpetual statute to the sons of Israel and to the alien who sojourns among them.

Numbers 19:19
‘Then the clean person shall sprinkle on the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify him from uncleanness, and he shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and shall be clean by evening.

Numbers 19:21
‘So it shall be a perpetual statute for them. And he who sprinkles the water for impurity shall wash his clothes, and he who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 13:54
then the priest shall order them to wash the thing in which the mark occurs and he shall quarantine it for seven more days.

Leviticus 13:58
“The garment, whether the warp or the woof, or any article of leather from which the mark has departed when you washed it, it shall then be washed a second time and will be clean.”

Numbers 31:20
“You shall purify for yourselves every garment and every article of leather and all the work of goats’ hair, and all articles of wood.”

Genesis 49:11
“He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes.

Wow, that’s a LOT of washing!

And the New Testament talks about washing as well — the type of washing that the Blood of the Lamb does for us:

Hebrews 9:11-28 (NLT)

So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come.He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead. The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.

That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool.

Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.” And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.

That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.

For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.

And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

Yes, we see that just like my wife and I make sure that my daughter’s clothes are washed or replaced before we send her out each morning, the Lord washes and replaces our spiritual garments as well. If I know how to be a good Father and look out for my own daughter, how much more does our Good, Good Father know how to do even more for His children?

We can all rejoice in the encouragement that we find all the way back in Lamentations:

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”

We can rejoice in the promise we find in 1 John:

1 John 1:9

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

And we can be mindful of the warnings in Revelation:

Revelation 3:4
‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

Revelation 7:14
I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Lord, we are so grateful that you are faithful to forgive us, to wash us clean from all of our sin and wickedness. And because of that grateful understanding of the sacrifice that you made at Calvary, on the hill at Golgotha, upon the cross for our sake — we plead with you to help us keep from soiling our garments. There is nothing good in us apart from Christ Jesus, so we long to abide with you and not be apart from Christ Jesus — but to be set apart from the world, as a holy, sanctified people to be used by you for your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. And not for our own glory or honor, but so that we might not stumble others, so that we might not be hypocrites, so that we might not be the same as we were before. We ask you to not only be our Savior, but to be our Lord. Take our lives and make them yours. Deliver us into your will, Our Beloved Father. Amen.

“I Can Only Imagine”

“I Can Only Imagine” Songwriter: Bart Millard

NOTE: Wendy Lee Nentwig wrote a wonderful article for Crosswalk about the origins of this song here.

https://www.smule.com/recording/mercyme-i-can-only-imagine/1276873554_2001249620/frame/box

I have to admit that I went full worship on this recording and took some creative liberties, but I was so excited with the thought… just the awe… of what it might be like one day.

NOTE: I’m not blissfully or blindly singing this tune longing for the day of the Lord, either — I know Amos 5:18-24 very well and take “working out my salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12-13) and a healthy “fear of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:17, Luke 12:5, 2 Corinthians 5:11, Revelation 14:7) very seriously.

This is a song about stirring wonder and revealing awe for El Shaddai, Almighty God. In fact, I think this song when lifted as worship in spirit and truth, reveals the very same kind of awe that we see evident in believers like those of Acts 2:43.

Let’s take a look at the lyrics as written by the songwriter:

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When you face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
Surrounded by You glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
In it’s whole, this song reminds me of a line in chapter 8 of Paul’s letter to the Romans where he talks about the glory that is to be revealed to us:
Romans 8:18
For I consider [from the standpoint of faith] that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us!
And another verse from Philippians about what lies ahead:
Philippians 3:7-14
7 But whatever former things were gains to me [as I thought then], these things [once regarded as advancements in merit] I have come to consider as loss [absolutely worthless] for the sake of Christ [and the purpose which He has given my life]. 8 But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him [believing and relying on Him], not having any righteousness of my own derived from [my obedience to] the Law and its rituals, but [possessing] that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; 11 d]”>[d]so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead.12 Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on e]”>[e]so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me andmade me His own. 13 f]”>[f]Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

So, even as believers and saints, we walk with Christ in us today — there is something still greater that we look ahead to that surpasses our wildest dreams:

1 Corinthians 2:9

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

In those first lines that say:

I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When you face is before me

I am reminded of His promise recorded in Matthew’s gospel about those pure of heart:

Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

And what of the promise in the Psalms:

Psalm 11:7

For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

Man, to even think of such things seems so far beyond my comprehension and understanding that I’m humbled, I’m brought to my knees, even as I long to jump up and down and praise Him. It’s that state of awe where you’re caught between falling on your face in reverent, passionate, overwhelming humility — yet overcome by the joy of the Lord and the praise welling up inside you.

Yes, this is what this song is sung about.

Surrounded by You glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

Yes, I wonder if the above would be our awe inspired state?

Will I dance for you Jesus

In our abandon for any concern about what men might think of us, would we dance undignified like David danced?

2 Samuel 6:14-23
And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.
16 As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. 17 And they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts 19 and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat,[e] and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house.
20 And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince[f]over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord.22 I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your[g] eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” 23 And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

Or maybe it will result in a different state:

Or in awe of You be still

I wonder if we would be still long enough to know the true awe that He is God, and we are His?

Psalm 46:8-11
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

How will we react?

Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall

This reminds me both of the beloved disciple, John’s reaction in Revelation:

Revelation 1:17-18 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

And I’m sure that John in Revelation as quoted above knew quite well of the confidence talked about in

hebrews 4:14-
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Dig a pit for your Lion

I’m excited about today’s study, because it is about traps:

Stick with me, and I think that you’ll enjoy the journey we have for today in God’s Word…

Traps.

Let go back… way back…

The Word of God first warns Cain to “beware of sin that crouches at the door” in the old testament book of Genesis:

And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. But Abel brought [an offering of] the [finest] firstborn of his flock and the fat portions. And the Lord had respect (regard) for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no respect. So Cain became extremely angry (indignant), and he looked annoyed and hostile. And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.” Cain talked with Abel his brother [about what God had said]. And when they were [alone, working] in the field, Cain attacked Abel his brother and killed him.
GENESIS 4:3‭-‬8 AMP

So we are talking about a “hidden danger” of which Cain was ignorant and unaware of — a trap.

And we see Peter speaking of this Age old enemy again in the new testament:

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack–rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.] After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be]. To Him be dominion (power, authority, sovereignty) forever and ever. Amen.
1 PETER 5:8‭-‬11 AMP

But we see two different results described in these two passages. In the first, we see an example where the truth of the Word of God hardened Cain even more in rebellion because of his pride, his wanting his own will and way to reign supreme. And when Cain fed that lion of pride, it resulted in murder, death, the spilling of innocent blood. In the second, we see a promise of what is possible through the work of the Holy Spirit, imparted by the innocent blood that was spilled by Jesus Christ on the cross.

Let’s chase a rabbit for a moment… Or better yet, a lion…

Genesis mentions sin as crouching by a door, and 1 Peter speaks of it as a lion prowling. There is another story of lions we also see in the old testament about Daniel and we see two very differing results there as well:

It seemed good to Darius [who became king after Belshazzar] to appoint over the kingdom 120 satraps who would be in charge throughout the kingdom, and over them three chief commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, so that the king would have no loss [from disloyalty or mismanagement]. Then this Daniel, because of the extraordinary spirit within him, began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and the satraps, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire realm. Then the [other two] commissioners and the satraps began trying to find a reason to bring a complaint against Daniel concerning the [administration of the] kingdom; but they could find no reason for an accusation or evidence of corruption, because he was faithful [a man of high moral character and personal integrity], and no negligence or corruption [of any kind] was found in him. Then these men said, “We will not find any basis for an accusation against this Daniel unless we find something against him in connection with the law of his God.

Then these commissioners and satraps agreed to approach the king and said to him, “King Darius, live forever! All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors have consulted and agreed together that the king should establish a royal statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who petitions (prays to) any god or man besides you, O king, during the next thirty days, shall be thrown into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which [insures that it] may not be altered or revoked.” So King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction. Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he went into his house (now in his roof chamber his windows were open toward Jerusalem); he continued to get down on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.

Then, by agreement, these men came [together] and found Daniel praying and making requests before his God. Then they approached and spoke before the king regarding his injunction, “Have you not signed an injunction that anyone who petitions (prays to) any god or man except you, O king, within the designated thirty days, is to be thrown into the den of lions?” The king answered, “The statement is true, in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be altered or revoked.” Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, does not pay any attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you have signed, but keeps praying [to his God] three times a day.” Then, as soon as the king heard these words, he was deeply distressed [over what he had done] and set his mind on rescuing Daniel; and he struggled until the sun went down [trying to work out a way] to save him. Then, by agreement, these same men came to the king and said, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be altered or revoked.” Then the king gave a command, and Daniel was brought and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you constantly serve, rescue you Himself!

A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no music or entertainment was brought before him, and he remained unable to sleep. Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and hurried to the den of lions. When he had come near the den, he called out to Daniel with a troubled voice. The king said to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! My God has sent His angel and has shut the mouths of the lions so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also before you, O king, I have committed no crime.” Then the king was greatly pleased and ordered that Daniel be taken out of the den. So Daniel was taken out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in and relied on and trusted in his God. The king then gave a command, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the den of lions, they, their children and their wives; and before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations, and speakers of every language who were living in all the land: “May peace abound to you! I issue a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to [reverently] fear and tremble before the God of Daniel, For He is the living God, enduring and steadfast forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever. “He rescues and saves and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth– He who has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” So this [man] Daniel prospered and enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.
DANIEL 6:1‭-‬28 AMP

And we can see Peter’s exhortation that we should “be firm in [our] faith” –girded up, supported by, and proven by this example of a moment in the life of Daniel. Yes, Daniel and the Lion’s Den is a familiar tale of man and lion that many will have heard of in the Bible. A wonderful story of how God is faithful to protect those who trust and obey Him, and how He is just to punish the wicked and rebellious and conniving.

But what have you heard of the story of Benaiah?

Have you heard that you do not have to be powerless against sin, but that you can see the lion slain?

Benaiah (Hebrew: בניהו‎, “Yahweh builds up”)

Do you realize that Yahweh is “building you up” — just like in the name Benaiah, and in the promise Peter spoke of in the end of that passage we looked at earlier:

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].
1 PETER 5:10 AMP

So who is this Benaiah that I’m talking about?

I suggest you check out this article on Benaiah for a fuller grasp: https://overviewbible.com/benaiah-facts/

The most important point in this discussion of Benaiah:

“Benaiah killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day”

We see it twice in the Old Testament:

Then Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many notable acts, killed two [famous] warriors of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in the middle of a pit on a snowy day.
2 SAMUEL 23:20 AMP

Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a courageous man of Kabzeel who had done great things, killed the two sons of Ariel of Moab. Also he went down and killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day.
1 CHRONICLES 11:22 AMP

It would not be notable to have dug a pit, caught a lion, and then killed it from standing safely above shooting arrows or throwing spears — but he went down and killed this lion himself, in the middle of the pit, lion against man, man against lion.

I wonder how many of us foolishly cower and hide from our sinful temptations (or needlessly fall victim to them) instead of standing firm against them, resisting them to either see them flee powerless, or be slain by the power of the Holy Spirit that abides in us?

What demon needs to be slain in your life?

What temptation needs to be overcome, what addiction needs deliverance, what sickness needs healing so that it can no longer return at its leisure to attack you?

Have we been content being tossed to and fro by our desires, like we are a little mouse that the cat plays with but has not yet killed?

We are not mice, but we are Men of God — unless we indeed have failed the test and do not truly believe! So let’s remember who we are in Christ.

And let’s remember that Jesus Christ has already gone down into the pit with that enemy and secured victory over sin and death:

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. And He placed His right hand on me and said, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last [absolute Deity, the Son of God], and the Ever-living One [living in and beyond all time and space]. I died, but see, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of [absolute control and victory over] death and of Hades (the realm of the dead).
REVELATION 1:17‭-‬18 AMP

O death , where is your victory ? O death , where is your sting ?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin [by which it brings death] is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].
1 CORINTHIANS 15:55‭-‬58 AMP

If we’ve allowed that lion to hang around — it is not just attacking us, but is attacking and impacting those around us as well. Benaiah didn’t just resist that lion, scare it enough so that it wouldn’t come after him anymore. No, he didn’t just leave it alive so that it could slay and devour his brothers and sisters or the little helpless and defenseless ones in the camp.

No, he slayed it.

And furthermore, that is both the example Christ has given us to follow, and the instruction the Word of God gives us in how to live our renewed lives.

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another. For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is fulfilled in one precept, “Y ou shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, you shall have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit].” But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage–our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.
GALATIANS 5:13‭-‬26 AMP

What pit do you need to dig to see your lion slain?

What faith do you need to have stirred up, maybe even awakened for the first time, into true deep and passionate belief that goes beyond your own comfortable understanding of the do’s and don’ts and steps into trusting the Lord to prove Himself powerful and victorious in your life?

Today is the day.

Is anyone among you suffering? He must pray. Is anyone joyful? He is to sing praises [to God]. Is anyone among you sick? He must call for the elders (spiritual leaders) of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God–it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its crops [as usual]. My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you strays from the truth and falls into error and [another] one turns him back [to God], let the [latter] one know that the one who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save that one’s soul from death and cover a multitude of sins [that is, obtain the pardon of the many sins committed by the one who has been restored].
JAMES 5:13‭-‬20 AMP

More desirable than prosperity and pleasures

What could be more desirable than prosperity and pleasures?

Seems like a bold claim.

What if an add on television made such a claim?

Would we immediately dismiss it as a lie?

Would we pay attention in detail to the claims they were making and then test it to see if such claims could possibly be true?

Would we sell everything we had to buy such a thing?

The Bible makes a bold claim:

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. – PSALM 19:10 AMP

And for anyone who prefers KJV or references to the original Hebrew, you can dig in a little deeper to be sure we haven’t stepped of the reservation in this morning’s line of study:

Let’s look at that word gold and what is referring to:

So we can see that it is talking about gold, something shimmery, even metaphorically of the splendor of the sun or the heavens. It is talking about what is pleasing and valuable in the eyes of men.

Now, let’s look at that word for honey:

And now we are talking about soft, sticky, sweet delicacies. I can think of so many things that are soft, sticky, and sweet to my other senses of touch, taste, and even smell — clearly some that are meant as edible fullfillment, but even those that are sensually fulfilling as well. Yes, this is talking about what is pleasurable to be held and “partaken of” by men.

So this is quite a claim! Something more desirable than the desires of our eyes and more desirable than the desires of our fleshly cravings — that seems to truly be a bold claim. And recognizing those terms “desires of the eyes” and “desires of the flesh”, doesn’t that lead us to an interesting cross reference in scripture?

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:15‭-‬17 ESV

So the new testament in 1 John chapter 2 makes quite a bold claim indeed. It references both of these things we see from the Psalm 19 verse, and makes clear that these things, these types of desires “are not from the Father”. Bold indeed!

But you wonder if I’ve led you on a wild goose chase. You wonder if I’ve chased a rabbit out of context. The enemy would love for you to step away at this moment and miss out on what part of this truly is for you. And you wonder to yourself, “It couldn’t really be that me wanting that vehicle/ house that I really don’t need is revealing in my heart an opposition to God that needs to be surrendered? It couldn’t really be that my looking at things that aren’t appropriate, or aren’t glorifying God, or are stirring up desires in my heart towards prosperity and pleasures instead of towards God are evidence of a bigger problem could it?”

If you think that I’ve stepped outside of an original meaning or interpretation of the original text, look back to Psalm 19. Verse 10 sits right in the middle of the section it speaks to:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord , my rock and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:7‭-‬14 ESV

I have highlighted in bold above, over and over again, we see this reference to the same thing repeatedly, described from different perspectives to make it clear and undeniable what is being spoken of — it calls it:

  • The law of the Lord
  • the testimony of the Lord
  • the precepts of the Lord
  • the commandment of the Lord
  • the fear of the Lord
  • the rules of the Lord

It does not say “the law of Moses” or “the testimony of Hop” or “the fear of poverty”. No, all of these are “of the Lord”, they are speaking to “the will of God” as opposed to “the will of man”. Yes, you have been opposed to God in many ways, rebellious man, rebellious woman! But the Lord God Almighty cries out to you, “Turn back to the Lord! Acknowledge your sin, confess it, repent, and choose today to serve the Lord! Lay down your life so that you might live, truly live! And it is then that you will know the treasure that is greater than what your eyes can see or your senses can indulge in. Come, meet with the Lord, and see that God is so good!”

And what is this “Law of the Lord”? If you know who the Lord IS, it is not hard to find a reference. Christ is the Lord, and all the law points to Him:

[Jesus Christ spoke:] You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,
John 5:39 ESV

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9‭-‬11 NLT

We see, then who the scriptures testify is Lord, it is Jesus Christ!

And what is His law? This law that is more valuable than prosperity or pleasure — what is it?

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 NLT

I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.
Hosea 6:6 NLT

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36‭-‬40 NLT

Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV

Treasure this truth.

Let go of what is worthless in comparison. Cling to what is truly valuable. May the Lord bless you through His Word that is shared today, and may you call upon Christ as YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR, fully surrendered and trusting in Him to see you through. Amen.

My response to compliments

If I’m a better person today
than I was in days gone past
It’s because true “Jesus change”
Is change that always lasts.

You see,

I used to try and try
To always get my way
No matter, whatever the cost
No care, whatever the play.

But I met this wonderful man,
I found Him in this book,
It’s called the Holy Bible,
And He’s changing my whole look.

I can see the changes
These things He’s teaching me
To care about you
To love all of WE.

I know it seems religious
I know it resembles the fake
But this Jesus living inside me
It’s something I just can’t shake.

He’s touched me and He’s changed me
He’s making all things new
And if you’ll get to know Him closer
He’ll do a great work in you.

So when you have that need
And when you hear that call
Reach out reach out to Jesus
And make Him your all in all.

For nothing will shine brighter
And nothing taste as sweet
As when you meet my Jesus
And kiss His nail pierced feet.

His love is overwhelming
His forgiveness is complete
And when you meet my Jesus
Your new start will be complete.

So step out on this journey
step out, step out in faith
This narrow path we follow
Won’t forever wait.

Our every day is numbered
Our time is drawing near
So cry out to my Jesus
And He will meet you here.

He lovingly made you precious
And beautiful in His own eyes
He speaks to you the truth
And casts away the lies.

For He is your dear Father
In heaven up on high
And when you call on my Jesus
It’s you He can’t deny.

So call on my dear Jesus
And know Him close and dear
And nothing, even death
Shall you ever fear.

But even more than that
You’ll begin to take His form.
He’ll be recognized in you
And that’s far, far from the norm.

So walk with my dear Jesus
Stay right there by His side
He will never leave you
And He will never hide.

Look up look up to Jesus
In Him you can truly trust
And if you want to truly live
In Him, in Him you must.

—-

God bless you, Tonya Pinkleton, for honoring Him this morning by honoring me. Your kind words inspired me to put this poem down in words this morning. Thank you.