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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Word’

I am participating in a Ligonier Connect Bible Study online with my pastor and six or more other believers at my church. After answering questions and listening to a short lecture online, we have a Zoom meeting on Saturday evening to discuss the content. Fellowship with the saints over the Word of God, Christ, and our walk with God is always invigorating, encouraging and raising one’s spirit. Our topic is particularly encouraging since it is on assurance of saving faith. It can and should be sought after by the believer, because assurance strengthens faith, which in turn develops godliness and a desire for godliness.

In this last week’s lecture, Dr. Joel Beke mentions the key passages on assurance: I John, Galatians 5, Matthew 5, and II Peter 1:6-10. John states his theme toward the end of his book: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (I John 5:13). Galatians 5:22-24 lists the fruits of the Spirit. Matthew 5-7 is the “Sermon on the Mount”, which Jesus begins by stating the “Beatitudes”, characteristics of those who are kingdom citizens. Peter is exhorting the believers to exercise “His [God’s] precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (v.4) by “applying all diligence” (v.5) in your faith. There is not a contradiction between what God gives and our proper utilization of it.

Dr. Beke’s lecture was very good, emphasizing the need to both trust the promises of God and “test yourselves to see if you are in the faith” (II Corinthians 13:5). I appreciated most that he dealt with the nuances of testing your faith to be sure you neither deceive yourself into thinking you have saving faith when you have none nor deceive yourself into despairing of faith. I wanted him to provide a list of the assurances, the external and internal (“practical and mystic evidences” as he said it). Since he did not, I have attempted to list and organize them for my benefit and yours. Dr. Beke said there are about 30 evidences in these passages. I came up with the number 37. I combined some because they seemed to be saying the same thing, but I am sure I combine differently than he does. For example, I speculate that he may have clumped all beliefs about who Jesus is into one evidence, whereas I kept them as four separate items. Also, I expanded the II Peter passage by three verses, adding one more evidence.

I further tried to organize the evidences into categories. This is where I ran into problems. At first I had a catch all category that was titled “Emotions/Intentions/Actions”, but I quickly realized that would include everything on the list. So, I separated out “Practice of Righteousness”, but that is still too vague. On that point of vagueness, John lists “practicing righteousness” as a way to know you know God, but that seemed to be a summary of all that he meant and not merely a concrete evidence. I say all of this to say, the process of delineating every single evidence of saving faith is not easy, but the testing of yourself to see that you have saving faith is encouraging and faith building, joy producing, and useful and advisable. I hope that you are encouraged as you read the Scriptures from the list that I have provided. Don’t hesitate to suggest ways that I may better organize my list.

Evidence for Assurance

Or click here to see a clearer Word document version.

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Today’s Sunday School lesson was about Samuel’s call from God and God’s judgment on Israel and Eli in I Samuel 3 and 4. I started with an introduction to set the stage for why Samuel was where he was when he was. I had the children read various verses in chapters 1 and 2 (1:1-2, 10-11, 20, 26-28; 2:2:1), interspersing explanation about what was going on. The point of my introduction was to show how God set the stage for Samuel’s call in God’s working in Hannah’s walk of faith. In the middle of pointing out to my 4th through 6th graders about Hannah’s journey of faith, a five point alliteration came forcefully to me (Later I increased it to seven.). In fact, as I jumped up and began to review the points I had just made, I wrote it on my new, spacious whiteboard. The pastor’s daughter said, “It’s an alliteration! I thought those usually have only three words.” (You have to be laughing at this point.) Here it is in the form of seven:

     Problem- Hannah had no children.

     Prayer- At the tabernacle Hannah poured out her heart to God.

              Petition- Hannah asked for a son.

              Promise- Hannah promised to give the son back to God to serve Him.

     Pregnant- Hannah received the gift of a son in due time.

     Presentation- Hannah presented Samuel before God to serve Him continually.

     Praise- Hannah gave praise to God for His gift, power, and sovereignty.

God used Hannah’s problem to bring praise to Him, pleasure to Hannah, and a prophet to Israel.

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Inspired and Profitable

It is such a joy to teach young people about the Word of God. God’s Word is our foundation for truth and life. Trying to increase the students’ understanding and memory of what was being taught, I came up with a diagram. Perhaps it will help you, too.

2 Tim 3-16

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Hebrews 1:3 is a deeply insightful verse about our God: “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” I have long been fascinated by the phrase “radiance of His glory” and have written about it once upon a time here (Radiance Check out the poem, too.). “Radiance” is translated “brightness” in several versions but seems to fall short of conveying what Jesus accomplishes by revelation to us of His Father. He shines forth His glory, that is, we could not know of God without seeing His glory in Jesus’ representation of Him. You only see the sun because of the light radiating from it. Analogies can be taken too far, in this case to make Jesus out to be something or someone separate from the Father. That is heresy and not at all my intention in explaining radiance. Rather, hear what Jesus said, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9) That verse, of course, bears on the phrase “exact representation” also. In the ESV it reads, “exact imprint”. As an illustration I pressed my truck key into Play-Doh. I pointed out that plastic could be poured into the imprint, harden and used to open my truck door. Again, you could get into positive/negative imprint or representation being a facsimile rather than the original but that is not what the Scripture is saying. These analogies fall short because of the mystery of the Trinity, meaning our inability to understand the essential nature of God, but He gives us insight to extend our understanding even though we fall short of full understanding.

The next phrase is the one that has caught my attention most recently. I am now going to indulge in some manifest musing (or “thinking out loud” as we usually say if I were talking to you). Heupholds all things by the word of His power.” “Word of His power” is an odd construction in English. NASB, KJV, NKJV, and ESV use this phrase. NIV, HCSB, and NRSV say, “His powerful word”, and the RSV says, “his word of power”, both phrases which seem to me to have a different meaning from “word of His power”.  I suspect the three newer translations (NIV, HCSB, and NRSV) made interpretative decisions for the purpose of clarity. Is this change justified? The Greek Interlinear Bible (http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/NTpdf/heb1.pdf) has the literal English word order as “declaration [word] of the ability (power) of Him” (“[]” being my addition and “()” being theirs). Not claiming to know more than the slightest inkling of Greek grammar, I can at least say that the majority translations are going with the more literal wording. The interlinear translation and Strong’s help us with what the particular words mean. “Word” here is not logos, the expression of God, but rhema, a declaration. And “power” is dynamis, which means ability or potential for power or action.

The “of” is important. It denotes possession. If I say, “son of mine” I mean the same thing as “my son”. The shade of difference is the emphasis on son in the first phrase. So the reason I don’t think “word of His power” and “His powerful word” mean the same thing is that “powerful” is not possessive, but a descriptive modifier. It says His word is powerful. “Word of His power” says His power’s word. The power is expressed in a declaration (word). Rather than saying His word has power, it seems to be saying that His power has word. His power proceeds forth as that which communicates what will be (be that static (“upholds”) or dynamic (“created” Isaiah 40:26)). Word modifies power rather than power modifying word. If we had the word it could read, ‘His wordful power’. The emphasis is on declaration (word) that upholds all things but the source of that word is His power. From His power proceeds forth a word which upholds. The way his power is being exhibited is through efficacious declaration.

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My pastor taught on Jesus’s warning in the Sermon on the Mount concerning false prophets found in Matthew 7:15-20. He asked, given the teaching of 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged“, and theme of how to live in the Sermon, why is this passage about false prophets (and teachers) here? He concluded that there is a balance to not being condemningly judgmental in 7:1 that emphasized being discerning and discriminating. False Prophets destroy the church from within frequently before their presence is detected. They must be recognized and ousted. The pastor showed from the passage that they have three characteristics: 1) Inwardly Corrupt (outward appearance with no inward experience), 2) Bad Fruit (coming from deeds of the flesh), and 3) Destined for Destruction (true belief includes growth in righteousness). On the second point the pastor describe a bad tree with bad fruit. As happens on occasions my mind drifted off into a parallel illustration.

Eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigra (I actually remembered that without looking it up, but I can’t remember people’s names. I have poor skills at people name association.)) is an easy tree to identify in the woods. As you approach it you know what it is before you can discern leaves or bark. Very little grows under a walnut tree. The fruit (really the hull of the fruit surrounding the nut) has a poison that prevents other trees and many herbaceous varieties from growing under it. A tree given wide berth by other trees in the eastern forest is rare. More frequently trunks are quite close and roots intertwine each other if sunlight is sufficient for both. When I arrived home I found that the leaves and twigs, but especially the roots, also have the poison,“juglone” (5 hydroxy-1,4­ napthoquinone) (https://hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-193.pdf). The information I read says that many trees and plants are tolerant to juglone, but my observation in the woods tells me that though tolerant in the sense that their leaves don’t turn yellow or the plant die, the plants do not evidently sprout well under walnut trees since the ground most usually looks almost as if it is mowed.

 The spiritual metaphor here is the same as that of a fruit tree but more caustic perhaps? Green, developing walnuts look nice enough and are certainly abundant. The False Teacher may have the appearances of fruitfulness in quality and quantity, but they inhibit life and growth. And the source is the roots which one source said can poison the ground for several years after the tree is removed. Wow! This happens in churches so that they are still reeling years after the false teachers has been run off. “You have seen their abominations and their idols… so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood. (Deuteronomy 29:17-18) And Jesus said, Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” (Matthew 12:33-34) May God multiply to His Church the grace of discernment to recognize and biblically deal with false teachers in their midst so that the sheep are not led astray and poisoned. May He strengthen and refresh those churches who have fallen prey to the poison root and fruit of false prophets that have inhibited growth among its members. May God purify us and build us up in the knowledge of Him so that we may worship Him in spirit and truth and share His glory accurately in the world.

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In the book “10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health” by Donald 
Whitney, the second question he asks is, "Are you governed increasingly 
by God’s Word?" Following is an outline Bible study that I put together 
based on that chapter. In parentheses are my thoughts and partial answers
to questions.
1. What is the most valuable object in the world?
   Rare, beautiful, large, or necessities of life perhaps
   Bible- likened to the basic of life
       Amos 8:11, Jeremiah 15:16, Matthew 4:4
(Without the Bible we would have no purpose, direction, or explanation 
of salvation and godly living.)
2. Psalm 119:72 Do you value it that highly?
   (My evidence of valuing the Bible comes with reading, studying and 
    heeding what it says.)
3.Does the ready availability of God’s Word cause you to de-emphasize 
  its importance in your thinking and priorities?     
  Prov. 29:18, Hebrews 4:12, I Peter 2:2
  (I would value it more if it were about to be taken away or even if 
   I had to hide it and read it in secret.)
4. What practical ways do you value the Word of God on a daily or 
   regular basis?
   (I value God’s Word by reading, studying, memorizing,hearing it 
    preached, sharing it with others, seeking to live by it, and 
    changing my views based on its words.)
5. Do you consciously inquire as to what the Bible says about specific
   areas of life? If so, what are some areas?
   (I do inquire about what the Bible says about His will for me, what
    is right and wrong, how I should interact with my family, neighbors,
    church members, fellow citizens,the lost, and people I am offended by,
    and seek to live by it.
6.Do you ask spiritual leaders to help you apply Scripture in particular
  situations? Do you literally open the Bible to search for God’s will?
  (A quote by Octavious Winslow on p.31-32 may be summarized as "nothing 
   perhaps more stongly indicates the tone of a believer's spirituality,
   than the light in which the Scriptures are regarded by him.")
7. What is your response to spending time in God’s Word?
   Psalm 119:47, 48, 97, 113,119, 127, 163
   “Indifference to truth is a mark of death.” John Piper
   (David says numerous times that he loves God’s Word.
    Indifference to God’s Word is little different than hatred.)
8. Jesus, the Living Word, quotes and obeys the written Word of God 
   because it…
   a. contains truth   John 17:17
   b. contains the Father’s will and words   John 14:23-24
   c. is sufficient for all life and godliness   2 Timothy 3:16
   d. is an example for us Luke 10:26; 1 Corinthians 10:11
9.The human Jesus lived by and memorized the written Word of God
  Matthew 4:4
  (Can you imagine Jesus as a boy memorizing Scripture? OK, I'm not
   too into "sanctified imagination when it comes to Scripture, but
   seriously, when He was running over a verse, did He ever muse, 
   "Did I say that before (a long time ago)?"
Isaiah 8:20: "To the Law and to the Testimony"
             (is like saying “What does the Bible say?”)
10. How important is Scripture? Deut. 32:47
    (“no dawn”, “no light”- spiritually dead Is 8:20
     “it is your life” Dt 32:47)
11. What does the Bible say?
    Example: “God helps those who help themselves.”
              No, Romans 5:6-8 and Galatians 3:2-5
    (Rom 5:“helpless”; sanctification the same Gal 3;
     An argument could be made that helping yourself is like being 
     careful “walk and please God” and lead a “quiet life” (I Thess 4:1-12)
     and God blesses your obedience and diligence, but helping yourself
     instead of clinging to God to even do good works is humanism.)
12.  Other examples to explore: How should my child be educated?
     How would God have me vote in the next election?
     Should I make a purchase (What is its purpose?)?
     What should I be doing and not doing in my church?
     Do we have qualified biblical leaders?
     How should our church reach people with the gospel and what is my part?
     What should I do with my life when I retire?
     (In other words, “all of life-events and choices great and small-
      should be governed by the Word of God.” p.35)
13. Psalm 119:105, Acts 18:26 Have you within the last several years
    revised your beliefs and actions based on what you learned in 
    God’s Word?
    (I believe I have gained a balance in my understanding between the
     importance of covenants and times in God’s economy for the end.
     I value relationships more now than formerly.
     I crave and take more opportunity for witness as I become more
     convinced of the judgment to come.
     I have a different view of divorce and remarriage.)
14. How might you deepen your desire for God’s Word?
    (Deepen your desire for God’s Word by
     reading it, listening to sermons, meditating, praying Scripture,
     seeking out promises, searching Scriptures for life’s answers,
     training yourself to ask,“How does the Bible speak to this?”)
15. Examine your spiritual health by asking yourself,
    “Am I governed increasingly by God’s Word?"

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In the fourth generation and 60 years after King David died there arose a king over Judah whose name was Asa. His father and grandfather had no heart for God, worshipping idols and allowing the people to run wild in their pursuit of idolatry. And his great-grandfather, Solomon, turned away from God in His old age because of the enticement and idolatry of his many wives. So it is a surprise the high praise Asa is given in I Kings 15: “Asa did what was right in the sight of the Lord, like David his father. He also put away the male cult prostitutes from the land and removed all the idols which his father had made. He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah; and Asa cut down her horrid image and burned it at the brook Kidron… the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the Lord all his days.” (v.11-13, 14b) Much of Asa’s story is repeated in II Chronicles 14-16, but as is frequently the case the story includes more spiritually commentary on details given in Kings. Besides removing idols and their worshippers, II Chronicles 14 also says that he “commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers and to observe the law and the commandment” (v. 4) and God rewarded him in that “the land was undisturbed, and there was no one at war with him during those years, because the Lord had given him rest.” (v. 6) Asa took advantage of these benefits of time and security by fortifying cities and strengthening the number and equipment of his army. And yet he did not put his trust in these but called on God to defeat a million man Ethiopian army that came against him. In response God indeed defeated the army and sent Azariah the prophet to strengthen and encourage Asa and Judah to continue seeking God because there is reward in it (II Chronicles 15:1-7). Asa indeed took courage and increased his reforms in Israel by more idol worship removal, restoring the altar of the temple and sacrificing on it, and promoting a covenant among the people to serve God only. There was peace for 20 more years.

     In all of this glowing report about Asa there are two blindspots of his that arise in the story. One is obvious and the other is not. “In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa brought out silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the Lord and the king’s house, and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Aram, who lived in Damascus, saying, ‘Let there be a treaty between you and me, as between my father and your father. Behold, I have sent you silver and gold; go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will withdraw from me.’” (II Chronicles 16:1-3) Baasha does withdraw and Asa has all of his people carry away the materials of fortification to build other fortifications. Well played, right? No, poorly played because as the prophet Hanani points out, “you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the Lord your God.” (v. 7) Asa’s blindspot, indeed his sin, is pride in the form of self-reliance. This had not been a problem 20 years before when he had called on God to defeat the enemy. Three indicators that it is indeed pride and not a simple oversight follow. Asa throws the prophet into prison and oppresses some of the people, maybe because they agreed with Hanani. The third indicator of his old age pride appears three years later when God further tests him with disease in his feet. “Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians.” (v. 12) The word “yet” indicates that this activity was a continuation of the self-reliance with the scheming that trusted a king rather than God. Such self-reliance is a danger for us all. For youth it may generally fall more in the realm of strength and supposed invincibility, but for the wizened king it may have been more the bane of years of experience without continued growth in reliance upon God due to comfort. We cannot let our guard down, “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (v. 9) The biter was the prophet’s next words: “You have acted foolishly in this.” If Asa had repented right then and there God may not have strapped him with so much war thereafter, or not tested him with foot disease. God is more concerned with purifying us than making us comfortable.

     The less obvious blindspot of Asa appears in one short phrase basically repeated in the other passage. “But the high places were not taken away,” and “…not removed from Israel.” (I Kings 15:14a; II Chronicles 15:17a) These detractors from Asa’s reputation are almost dismissed by their follow-up phrases: “nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly devoted to the Lord all his days,” (I Kings 15:14) and “nevertheless Asa’s heart was blameless all his days.” (II Chronicles 15:17) It seems that even though the high places were an oversight in Asa’s reforms and worship, his intentions toward God in worship were always pure. But this is not quite the end of the discussion because the Chronicles passage adds some facts that seem to confuse this whole problem. One of the first things that II Chronicles 14 indicates that Asa did was “he removed the foreign altars and high places, tore down the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherim…” (v. 3). Did he remove the high places or did he not? I think that the answer is both yes and no. This latter mention of high places is surrounded by mention of “foreign altars” with specific examples. The other high places may have been of the type mentioned when God spoke to Solomon in I Kings 3: “The people were still sacrificing on the high places, because there was no house built for the name of the Lord until those days. Now Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place; Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you.” (v. 2-5) Solomon along with the people and subsequent kings all had this blindspot. They were worshipping God but not how and where He told them to worship. In fact it was not until Hezekiah, 9 generations and over 210 years later, that “he removed the high places…” (II Kings 18:4) The Assyrian general scoffing at Judah’s confidence confirms that these are the high places of worship to God when he says, “is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?” (II Kings 18:22) What then is my point by all of this “high places” discussion? What may I learn? As I grow older I certainly want to avoid the glaring sin of self-reliance, and repent where it rears its ugly head. But I also want to ferret out the more subtle blindspots, sins of my culture that are dragging us down and we don’t even see it. God is gracious with us overlooking so much. When our heart is right before Him, He extends more grace, guiding us through many difficulties with help and rest on all sides. But our blindspots are not overlooked; He knows them every one. O Lord, reveal them to us so that we may go deeper with You, gain Your blessing on ourselves and our culture, and glorify Your name in every crack and cranny of life, so that “we are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5).

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I kept wanting to go to the mountains but people, responsibility, and other priorities kept preventing it. Seeing my repeatedly frustrated efforts my wife said that I should go tomorrow. I wasn’t going to second guess the cessation of chores and her encouragement to go. Besides, after taking a walk with her early on this August 1st I knew that it was an exceptionally clear, low humidity, and cool day. (65 degrees was enough for several people to say it felt like the first Fall day- wishful thinking with August and September ahead.) So a hasty breakfast and quicker packing job and I was gone. I like solitude but I like company, too, but the whole reason I was going alone was because I couldn’t find anyone and one had even backed out. 

I even enjoy the drive up on a very curvy rode in a small, good cornering car with a clutch and adequate power. The air was crisp, the sky totally blue, and my heart was light. Bouldering by yourself is considered to be quite risky by some, but I have observed others doing it with care. You only attempt climbs that are straight up over the pad with no barn door potential. The weather meant exceptional friction, almost unheard of in the humid South in the summer. I was climbing well, but I can’t say if I was climbing exceptionally well because I couldn’t try anything really hard because of the ground rules for climbing alone I’d set down. During rest breaks I took pictures of fern and tree leaves.

Rockcap Fern (Polypodium virginianum) I believe

Rockcap Fern (Polypodium virginianum) I believe

Frazier Magnolia

Frazier Magnolia

I set up several videos of me climbing (I just admitted to a selfie! I will not let this become a regular event and certainly not an addiction. I must keep this under control.) You may check them out by clicking on the names below. It will be immediately obvious that I’m no rockstar, but I enjoy the challenge, nonetheless:

Disc and Throw

Chainsawleft

Trillium fruiting

Trillium fruiting

American Chestnut "bush"

American Chestnut “bush”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After bouldering around until my forearms were quite tired, I walked up to the top of the ridge, sat down, took in the view, ate lunch, and read my Bible. Actually, when I first arrived up top I lay down on the bouldering pad a prayed for awhile. There was such a rest in telling my Father all my burdens about work, family, and internal stress. I have been enjoying, not just tolerating reading Leviticus and Numbers. Numbers 2 and 3 seem like lists of camp arrangement and numbers of fighting men, and numbering religious servants, but they reveal several things about God’s character. He is orderly and efficient and given to detail.  The arrangement of Levites reveals His concern for His holiness among the people and grace to not destroy them with His fierce justice. The taking of the Levites in place of the firstborn and the redemption of 273 additional Israelites by a gift of five shekels each reminds us of the depth of our sin problem and the gloriousness of God’s solution in salvation. The more I read the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy) the more I feel like Jesus is repeating Himself when He points to God’s holiness and the Law. As a man did He have “aha!” moments of learning the Word from His parents or the synagogue teachers, moments when He said, “I remember saying that.”? All of His Word speaks of His character and what is important to Him. Are we bored with it because we have little passion for knowing Him and what He cares about? Knowledge of Him is our ultimate goal here. Beautiful days in the mountains and hard days of difficulty or frustration are profitable and meaningful if we allow them to direct us to knowing Him more. Yeah, I prefer one over the other but I am slowly learning to muse, “Hmm, I wander how this situation may draw me closer to Him?”

House Fly

House Fly

 

Evergreen groundcover

Shining Clubmoss (or Shining Firmoss) Huperizia lucidula (Thanks for the ID help Sister L)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view up top increased my enjoyment of my time concentrating on God. He created all of the beauty around us to remind us of His beauty and the enjoyment we may have from these gifts from His good hand.

Left to Right: Table Rock, Hawksbill, Gingercake

Left to Right: Table Rock, Hawksbill, Gingercake

Exceptionally Beautiful August Day

Exceptionally Beautiful August Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Creator and Judge

God’s Word is true, beginning to end. How do I know? It says so. History and nature point to its truth. Changed lives communicate it. We don’t get to pick and choose which parts are true. It is all true or it is none true. It outlasts every attempt to do away with it or explain it away or ignore it or water it down. Look around the evidence is everywhere:

Beautiful features around the world

Remnants of origin and change unfurled

Point to Creator and Judge of all

First it was good and then came Adam’s Fall

 

Exists by the Word of His Power

Sky, land, and sea, every bee and flower

Sculpted by the Flood, rearranged now

Destroyed, yet beautified, amazing how

 

Every force balanced perfectly well

In the life zone with tides and more we dwell

Self-adjusting ecosystems work

Provide food and recycle as a perk

 

Fine layered strata formed in a day

Coal seams the same age formed in the same way

Mountains folded, canyons scoured away

Forces of judgment, Flood remnants that stay

 

Does it matter how it came to be?

How it changed long past to what we now see?

Indeed it does, acknowledge God true

As Creator and Judge and Savior, too

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It is poem writing season again. I had trouble starting. When I tried the only thing that came was the first line. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I was vaguely sad. As that settled on my soul I began to think why that would be so given the blessing and lack of obvious stress in my life just now. Rather than try to figure it out I set to pursuing the solution which is found in Scripture. I Peter 5:3-4 says, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” Colossians 3:2-4 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Romans 6:11 says, “consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Nehemiah 8:10, “this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Given the context, the last verse is not saying that we should never be grieved, but that there is a time not to be. A perpetual state of sadness means a consistent looking away from God toward the circumstances. May God rescue us from that.

Dear Lord help me when I’m sad

To learn Your joy by faith known

Dwell on Your grace and be glad

More my Savior’s beauty shown

 

In trials and temptations be

Focused on heaven’s riches

That in hardships we may see

Purpose and service niches

 

Find passion for mundane chores

In praise it brings to our Lord

Through crises open the doors

To know God and Him adored

 

When loved ones die or withdraw

Find solace in Father’s eyes

From His Word and prayer we draw

Comfort to resist lonely lies

 

As stress births desperation

Then retreat to His strong side

Flee your worry creation

Rest when in Him you confide

 

When overwhelmed totally

Seek out saints to hold you up

Build vulnerability

God will through them fill your cup

 

Not as though struggle will stop

Short of heaven it will not

World, flesh, devil will not drop

The constant barrage of rot

 

But Christ has overcome them

For those who trust God can know

Victory and joy in Him

And witness to others flow

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“Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued,” quoted my pastor of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Paul declared,But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11

As we get nearer to Christ through years of devotion and repetition of trials, we discover more His value and less the worth of all that we held so dearly without cause. The pastor’s quote drove me immediately to a quote of another Christian who had drawn close to the Savior just before his death: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot (This may actually be a quote he had memorized after reading the English nonconformist preacher, Philip Henry, though it is not possible to know.) Elliott was willing to put all of his fears and desires on hold to reach for eternal gain.

Is there a pattern here? Do we value more that which is valuable as we gain a greater glimpse of Him who is valuable? Does that relate closely to the time of our home-going (heavenward, I mean)?

“If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, rather than just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His presence? You’d be bored to tears in heaven, if you’re not ecstatic about God now!” Keith Green

Bonhoeffer’s and Elliot’s lives were cut short directly as a result of pursuing Gospel-centered lives and Green’s while focusing on spreading the Gospel. It seems that this pursuit of God is dangerous. But perhaps that perspective of saying that it is dangerous is still that of one afraid to totally let go and serve God. Maybe that pursuit of God is really exciting and the seemingly early demise of these believers is the reward of hot pursuit of their goal. If your appointed, that is God ordained, assignment is complete your demise is neither untimely nor problematic, though I am not ignoring the hurt and discomfort it causes loved ones.

We could also quote other saints who outlived most everyone around them while seeking God with all their heart: “If I had a thousand pounds China should have it—if I had a thousand lives, China should have them. No! Not China, but Christ. Can we do too much for Him? Can we do enough for such a precious Saviour?” Hudson Taylor (1832-1905)

Still, there is some truth to the difficulty of living for Christ which Taylor, Judson, Carey, and many others would quickly attest. But so did Paul: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” II Timothy 3:12 And G.K. Chesterton confers: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

Watchman Nee was one of those exceptions of the type I am quoting here, “And it is through conflict that God induces the believer to seek and to grasp total triumph in Christ.” (1903-1972; died in prison for his faith)

What are we “normal folk”, Christians not called to foreign lands or extreme conditions, to do? There is much instruction about “ordinary living” but here are verses that show that it too is ordained by God for His glory: But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” I Thessalonians 4:10-12 The quiet life is not the undisturbed life. If you witness to your neighbors and live in purity before God, someone will notice and be irritated enough to bother you. Recall the II Timothy 3:12 verse above. And no one is a stranger to difficulty in this fallen world. Not for the sake of “some action” in the persecution arena or difficulty district but for the purpose of knowing your Savior and enjoying Him far more than now, don’t be afraid to count what is eternally rubbish as loss to gain what is eternally priceless, knowledge and intimacy with Christ. May God enable you and me to so do, rejoicing in the process and the outcome.

 

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Spring has significantly sprung in our neck of the woods. We may yet have another wintery storm but the bluster is mostly out of that season. Flowers seem particularly profuse this season: carpets of red trillium, bluets, grape hyacinth, and violets. The hardier varieties of Daffodils have already shown their glory. Leaves are sprouting rapidly on the trees.

Neighbor's Redbud

Neighbor’s Redbud

Violets and Grape Hyacinth

Violets and Grape Hyacinth

Violets and Ground Ivy

Violets and Ground Ivy

Variety of Heal All?

Variety of Heal All?

 

As the transformation has occurred, when not out in the yard or woods,  I have been watching from the dining room window as I eat. One sight in the last two weeks has arrested my attention, however, and it is of my own doing. I’ve long wanted fruit trees that produce. I lived for six years across a dirt road from a pear tree that no one cared for or seemed aware of. It would produce a few pears each year that were the old style: hard and sweet- moon glow pears I think. One year just before we moved the spring and summer conspired together with a perfect combination for this old pear tree. It produced so many large pears that it bent over with some of the pears touching the ground. Even more fascinating was the almost total lack of worms or other insects. I ate pears for lunch every day and most usually with yogurt after super. I ate them with my cereal for breakfast. We froze some and I ate them relentlessly. My wife ate her share as well. The tree produced for 3 1/2 months until heavy frost. It was simply amazing. The next year the pear tree produced a few worm eaten pears just like it had in all of my previous notice of it. Soon afterward we moved to our present house. One of the things that drew us to the house we bought was the trees: oak, redbud, catalpa, pitch pine, white ash, chinese chestnut, and two apple trees. I was too busy with house repair and job to prune them the first several years, but I read up on pruning and pruned them later on. I believe that it was the season a year and a half after that they produced some decent sized and number of apples. A fair number were without worm. They are probably what is referred to as cooking apples because they lack much firmness, and much sweetness or tartness desirable in an eating apple. Since then frost has gotten the flowers and worms have rotted the fruit. I sprayed them one year with soap just after the blooms fell off, to no avail. I’m not a pesticide kind of guy and I haven’t figured out the natural ways of preventing apple worms. I have pruned them somewhat since then but finally let them go. My son pruned them heavily last year but they are so tall that you can’t reach half of the apples and those that fall are severely damaged. There is a point to all of this story. I went out to try again this spring and found that the larger tree had several rotten places in the trunk. If there was any possibility of producing apples, it seemed to me, this problem must be dealt with. I cut most of the rot out. Now I sit and look at the sad results of my decisive action.

Ouch!
Ouch!

 I was immediately reminded of two Scripture passages: John 15:1-11 and Luke 13:1-9 Hear a little of each passage:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit… he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”      John 15:1-2, 5-6                   And He began telling this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine, but if not, cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9

Perhaps it is a parable for my life just now. No, by God’s grace, I do not believe I will be burned up because I belong to Him, but does cut down mean eternally separated or ‘fallen asleep’ as those who were disobedient (I Corinthians 11:30)? I have been severely pruned or cut; difficulties with career, health, loved ones. Has my life been unfruitful and full of rot so that it needed a major pruning? Am I too apt to be content, complacent when I have orders to fulfill? There are other ways to look at the reasons for these trials but I don’t want to be oblivious to the obvious. I certainly feel like this tree looks. And I don’t see it or mean it as complaining. I just want to learn the lessons that are here and serve my Lord better rather than have to recycle remediation. The flowers bloom all around; the sun shines brightly; the soil is warming and wet; the grass is greening. Am I connected and abiding in the vine (trunk and root) so that I may bloom, leaf, and bear fruit. I want to be a fruit tree that produces. I want to be pruned, not cut down.

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I break the present silence with trepidation because as always I feel compelled to be honest and that is hard when you have also been foolish in the eyes of others. So, I will start off slowly and get around to several points in a circuitous way.

At 4 AM on New Years Day, my precious wife awoke with what I now know to be “having a stroke”. She rubbed her head both front and back, complaining of it hurting and could not recognize me speaking to her. There is so much I am not saying because it is too hard to say, and there have  been many doubts and tears. We finally arrived at the hospital for a 3 night stay. Thankfully the stroke did not effect her motor skills other than a general, temporary weakness. She walked into the ER, spoke in a limited way without slurred speech, grasp numerous nurses and doctors hands and pushed against their resistance. Instead, her language center was arrested. She could not say names, mine, her own, and to her, most notably, her children. She could not understand many instructions which led one doctor to conclude she had motor skill deficiencies because she could not follow his instructions to apply pressure against his push.

I am going to post several poems that came 2 weeks after the events described above that reveal some of my reactions to all that I saw and experienced during this time as a result of seeing my wife’s debilitation and having family push me this way and that. The reflections are obviously focused around my thoughts and struggles concerning the stroke my wife had and are therefore skewed away from the events to my feelings about the events. No one is truly objective afterall though that does not mean untruthful. My first poem is a short one that deals with the immediate “why” question, to which there is no answer other than “He is good”:

I know in my heart that God is good
His Word declares it so
From His works to show
How His providence and care
The abundance He does share
Reveal that He is kind
And powerful and involved and good

If you have not yet concluded by faith that He is good you will probably ask endlessly “Why”, or perhaps, accuse Him, when it is sin in the world that is the cause of so much pain and suffering. Oh, so its sin and not Him. Why didn’t you say so? It is because all good and ill is filtered through His providential hands, otherwise He is not truly God: “I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” (Isaiah 46:9-11) Here it is, pay careful attention, those of you who want to soften God down, “who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good or evil'” (Zephaniah 1:12): “I am the Lord, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” (Isaiah45:6-7) Wow what a tangent! But it is not a false one because His goodness is based on His sovereignty- He is not fickle; He has purpose, much of which He has made known and yet is inscrutable by man. He is good and there is purpose in difficulty and harm we experience.

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By clicking on Trinity Day 2 Answers you can see the answers I promised to the Bible Study on manifestation of God’s character in His trinity in God ordained social institutions. We could avoid much of the heart-ache and problems we sustain if we would follow God’s plan for how the social interactions are supposed to work. Government, for instance, is involved far beyond its God ordain sphere of influence so that it mettles in the church and family spheres. Avenging evil and defense of the citizenry is all it is supposed to do. As a result of the many other things it forces on us, we lose freedom by each one.

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Having reviewed the biblical doctrine of the Trinity I now turn to its application by God to all God-ordained social institutions. Because we have refused to understand how God’s character is expressed in what He has created and ordained we try to re-invent social institutions apart from God, effectively destroying them.  I will allow several days for study before I fill in the blanks. (Lest I be called for plagiarism, I must acknowledge the ideas of Del Tackett in “The Truth Project”. I have digested and added my own study and organization to his framework.)  Click on Outworking of the Trinity to start the study.

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About a month ago I was leading our Sunday School class in a quick discussion of what the the Bible says about the Trinity and what it doesn’t. Confusion about God’s triune nature is not merely a theological blunder. It effects how you live because theology has consequences. Misunderstandings and refusals to believe the basics of God’s character and intra-relationship of His persons result in more than difference of conviction. It results in heresy. We cannot fully understand the Trinity because it our logical ability to resolve the interplay of the three Scriptural declarations about who the triune God is. Read my attempt at clarifying the issues involved by clicking on Trinity

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He is everywhere all the time- ubiquitous location! He doesn’t have to rush to get somewhere because He’s already there. If you can observe all situations in all locations you can know everything. We are so tied down by location. We say, “I can’t be two places at once,” but what about an infinite number of places all of the time? 

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
 Or where can I flee from Your presence?
 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
 If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
 If I take the wings of the dawn,
 If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
 Even there Your hand will lead me,
 And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”  Psalm 139:7-10

David grapples with this transcendent attribute of God in a very personal way. There is no escape from God’s presence resulting in God’s complete control of David’s path. Many find such an arrangement very confining, but David finds His presence and thoughts of him comforting, for “when I awake, I am still with You.” Psalm 139:18b  

So why do we pretend to hide actions from God?

“…she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”  And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”  Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”” Genesis 3:6-13

Adam and Eve hid in at least 3 ways. They sewed figs leaves as coverings. They hid in the garden. Adam hid by standing by passively and receiving the fruit from Eve without comment.Then they hid by casting blame on others: the woman you gave me, the serpent. But God had no difficulty finding their location or their orientation toward Him. God was gracious to give them opportunity to admit what they had done, but they just kept hiding when they began the blame game. God was present during the whole scenario, but gave them free choice to obey or disobey. 

“Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.  Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”  He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”  Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.” Jonah 1:7-10

As if he could flee from God’s presence, Jonah tries and the men think he is, or at least is trying. Our lack of understanding of God’s omnipresence is baffling. If Jonah is fleeing but the storm results from God’s pursuit then Jonah is not really getting away and they know it and fear. Our thoughts and attempts are logically inconsistent. We should cease trying to get away, but if we are tempted to attempt it, we should fear. Like the mouse between the cat’s legs, we may run but we are always firmly within His grasp. God addresses the preposterous nature of such attempts: 

““Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:23-24

Though God is everywhere He is not just anywhere. We who believe in the God of the Bible are not because of this doctrine become pantheists. God is Creator, not created. He is over, around, within, and beside all created things but He is separate: 

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

He sees the wicked and knows their ways but He dwells with others:

“You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’
Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you;
For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’” Isaiah 47:10

“The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29

Besides communicating the immediacy of God’s presence the following passage points out that God is both transcendent in His presence and personal in His presence.

“”For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.”” Isaiah 57:15

Since God is always present with us whether we sense it or not, we may take comfort in His powerful presence. We who have trusted Jesus and belong to God are secure. In some of His last words Jesus promised: 

“Lo,I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 

And because of His presence we should be desirous and careful to act in a way that is pleasing to Him. It is our motivation to be pleasing to Him and because He is near He sees all. He is also near in that He is coming again to take us to be with Him for eternity. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:4

His nearness is comfort to us and dreadful to the wicked.  We should be careful to live for Him out of thanks for all He has done. The wicked should repent of their wickedness and not pretend to be able to hide from Him or avoid His judgment. He is here. He sees. He knows. Take heed.

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He knows everything- the position and momentum of every particle (Heisenberg Principle doesn’t apply), where they have been and where they are going? He knows all thoughts and possibilities? If the idea doesn’t blow your little mind it’s just because you haven’t understood it yet.

That’s OK; David didn’t either:

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
 You understand my thought from afar.
 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
 And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
 Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
 You have enclosed me behind and before,
 And laid Your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
 It is too high, I cannot attain to it.”      Psalm 103:1-6

David points out that God knows his location, position, thoughts, intentions; direction before, during, and after moving; the words coming to his tongue. The result is entrapment, control, of which David realizes he has no comprehension beyond the fact that God does know, which was also revealed to David as a prophet in this Psalm. To state the case simply, God has intimate knowledge of us.

Do you find God’s thoughts of you, as expressed here, threatening or comforting? David was awed, acknowledging that he could not understand, but how did that make him feel? Jesus tells us the proper response to such a knowledge and power:

 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:25b-31

Do not fear; fear; do not fear. Which is it, Lord? Well, it depends on who you should fear and in what way. People can harm and even kill the body, but do not fear that because the worst it can result in is pain and the best is ushering you into the presence of God (not an excuse for humanly speaking “untimely” death by one’s own hand or someone else’s). Do fear, reverence, hold in awe God who can eternally separate you from His presence into an eternal world of hurt. But for those who know Him (not merely about Him), do not fear for His knowledge of you is intimate down to the counting of each hair and He values you.

Not only does He know us intimately, but He also knows us and all things completely:

1) in the present

“Listen to this, O Job,
 Stand and consider the wonders of God.
 “Do you know how God establishes them,
 And makes the lightning of His cloud to shine?
 Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds,
 The wonders of one perfect in knowledge…?”  Job 37:14-16 

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.  I John 3:18-20

His knowledge is our security!

2) in the past and the future 

“Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’”  Isaiah 46:9-10

One outside of time can see “the end from the beginning”, but I can’t fathom lack of time, existing in the eternal present, or foreknowledge. I can praise Him as the one of a kind God He is and be secure in His plan, established and accomplished as it is by a His good pleasure which is good (James 1:17). Not only does He know everything actual- past, present, future- but He also knows all potential as seen by the call to repentance of Jesus:

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” Matthew 11:21

The application for our lives is powerful. Since God knows my good, bad, and ugly sides and still loves me and chose me apart from any good or bad, then my relationship with Him is totally secure. But did He really choose me apart from foreknowledge of me?  

“…there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.”  Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.””  Romans 9:10-13

What are we to say about those who do not know Jesus? Are they simply doomed to hell because they have not been chosen? We can’t know who is and who isn’t, because we are limited in knowledge. But we do have the opportunity to plead for our salvation and we know that He hears, for “it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:21

Additionally, our security in Him is greatly increased because His plan is based on perfect knowledge so that nothing takes Him by surprise. His plan will be accomplished, period: “…You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” Isaiah 25:1

The result of these assurances of security should be to help us interpret situations that come up in our lives in a more patient, confident, purposeful, thankful, and eternal manner. Circumstances may be hard but they are not without purpose. We can add to the glory given to God by working with His plan instead of against it. He is worthy and there is great reward. 

The thoughts expressed herein are a mixture of mine and those of Kendell Easley in the Summer 2013 Gospel Project lesson “The Omni God”.

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Regeneration, renewal, sealing, sanctification, leading, filling, gifting the Holy Spirit is mighty in the believer’s life, always glorifying the work of Christ on the cross on our behalf. We finish our study tonight with emphasis on leading, filling, and gifting. Scripture certainly says more about these issues and the working out of them in our lives certainly require more consideration, but here is an overview:

V. Leading of the Spirit

      A. How

            1. Direct leading

                a. Sent Acts 13:4

                b. Forbad Acts16:6

                c. Said…go Acts 8:29-31

               d. Re-location Acts 8:39

          2. As involves truth

               a.Word of God only Deuteronomy 18:20-22

               b. Guides John 16:13

               c. Witness  Romans 8:16; Revelation 3:14

     B. Filling 

          1. Acts 6:5

          2. Acts 2:4, 4:8, 13:9

          3. Ephesians 5:18

          4. Luke 1:15

          5. Luke 1:41,67

          6. Acts 13:52

      C. Gifts

          1. I Corinthians 12:3-11,18

          2. Order    I Corinthians 14:26-33

      D. Result

          1. Romans 8:13-15  sons of God

          2. Galatians 5:18 not under the Law

Study Guide

V. Leading of the Spirit
The following verses each tell something about how
the Spirit leads us. For each verse write down how He leads.
1. Direct leading
     a. Acts 13:4

     b. Acts16:6

     c. Acts 8:29-31

     d. Acts 8:39

2. As involves truth
     a. Deuteronomy 18:20-22

     b. John 16:13

3. The following verses speak of the filling of the Holy Spirit. When does it seem to be happening or should happen: all the time, special occasions, when we ask for it?
     a. Acts 6:5

     b. Acts 2:4, 4:8, 13:9

     c. Ephesians 5:18

     d. Luke 1:15

     e. Luke 1:41,67

     f. Acts 13:52

4. Is there a difference in being led by the Spirit and being
filled with the Spirit? If so, what is it, and if not, are they
just two phrases for the same thing?

 

5. The following verses speak about the gifts of the Spirit
and how they operate.
     a. What is God’s purpose for the church in putting various
         gifts in the church according to I Corinthians 12:3-11,18?

     b. What are some of the gifts listed?

 

     c. Based on I Corinthians 14:26-33, what do you think
          edification means?

     d. What is the reason given by Paul for why prophets and
          those speaking in tongues should speak one at a time?

6. What are some results of being led by and filled with the
     Spirit in the following verses?
     a. Romans 8:13-15

     b. Galatians 5:18

 

 

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Let’s focus more detail on the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, what He does for us and in us, and how we are involved in His work.

IV. Sanctifying Work of the Spirit

      A. Necessity

          1. Galatians 3:1-18

          2. Galatians 5:17

          3. Romans 7:14-8:4

      B. Transformative work of the Spirit

          1. Galatians 5:22-23      2. Romans 8:13

      C. How we are involved

          1. Romans 6:11    2. I Corinthians 10:13   

          3. Philippians 4:8  4. Galatians 4:24,26

          5. I Corinthians 6:18    6. II Corinthians 5:7

          7. II Corinthians 5:14-15

Study Guide

IV. Sanctifying Work of the Spirit

1. In what ways do the following verses point out that

    the work of the Spirit is necessary?

    a. Galatians 3:1-18

 

    b. Galatians 5:17

 

    c. Romans 7:14-8:4

 

2a. Based on Galatians 5:22-23, who produces the fruits?

 

b. List the fruits and then indicate on which one(s) of the

    following each one focuses:   inward, outward, upward

    1)

    2)

    3)

    4)  

    5)  

    6)

    7)

    8)

    9)

 

3a. According to Romans 8:13 do we have a part in the

       Spirit working in us? If so, what is it?

 

b. The following verses shed further light on the answer to

#3a. How do each of these verses say we may be involved?

     1) Romans 6:11

 

     2) I Corinthians 10:13       

 

     3) Philippians 4:8 

 

     4) Galatians 5:24,26

 

     5) I Corinthians 6:18

 

     6) II Corinthians 5:7

 

     7) II Corinthians 5:14-15

 

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