Monday, December 31, 2012

God Has Carried Me

...the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.” Deuteronomy 1:31

This year started out as an experiment, an experiment in testing the trustworthiness of the God's personal word to me AND in my trustworthiness to leave each of my days in the Lord's hands so as to fulfill the promise to which He gave me. That promise, if you don't know, was that God said He would supply something for me to write each day this year if I were faithful to seek Him and then write what the Holy Spirit revealed to me. Well, the experiment started on January 1st, 2012 and today it ends of December 31st 2012 and God has shown me His faithfulness with utmost perfection.

I never looked at this year with the final day in mind and of completing the task the Lord had set before me. Also, all of the days in between the first of the year and the end, in which I know I would need to write and trust in the Lord for His provision, because the task ahead seemed all too insurmountable for me, I didn't focus on them in their entirety. Instead, I set my mind on seeking God one day at a time like He had asked me to. And, just like in Deuteronomy 1:31 above, I now understand how the Lord can carry a person from where they came from “to this place”.

In my wildest dreams I could only dream myself writing as much as I have written this past year, and looking over the volumes that God has given me I certainly have material for at least 3 books, if not more. Before this year, my writing at length of a voluminous work was taken by me as a joke. At times, when I had been asked if I was ever going to write a book, I would respond by saying, “I will write when God gives me time to write.” Well, I guess He decided this year to give me the time, although I really had no more time this year than any other year in my past He still provided and thus writing still happened even when I was in the midst of a busy campaign schedule, hobby farming season, and home schooling.

As I read the following verses from 1 Corinthians last night, I realized all the more what the author was saying in a much more personal way about the “things which God has for those who love Him”.

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered in to the heart of man the things which God has for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

What we envision for ourselves, our dream, our goals, our aspirations – they are all extensions of who God has made each of us to be. Some of our dreams are fueled by our self-centered desires, but we best not dismiss all the dreams we hold in our hearts as things which have emanated from our sinful self. God too plays a huge role in who we desire to be and how our hearts earn to live out certain dreams in this world.

As all of us look forward into 2013, starting tomorrow, we should make sure to first seek the Lord and what dreams He has for us that He would like to see fulfilled over this next year. God is not likely to have us copy the dreams of another person or go off in a direction that is contrary to His character or will for our life, but yet He also does not wish to appease our selfish desires over those desires He has personally set for each of our lives. The great thing about going forward, walking alongside God each and every day of our lives, we don't need to know what our ultimate life goal is, other than to seek Him and serve Him. God is God and He has been God and will be God from the beginning to the end of time.

For this is God, our God, forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.” Psalm 48:14

And, even when the end of time is reached on this earth, we know we have the promise from our Lord that still yet the most glorious adventure of all still awaits us. It will will be then that we can set our eternal eyes on our King, all His promises will be seen in their complete revelation, and we will be welcomed into our eternal home, the New Jerusalem.

Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; they will see the land that is very far of.” Isaiah 33:17


But, this is not goodbye..........

If you thought that things were going to end here on December 31th with this blog, I am glad to tell you that the Lord has given me a new direction (that which I was hinting about a few weeks ago) to carry on with a new website. The site will be up tomorrow, January 1st 2013, and you will be able to find me there each day. My posts will be a bit different on that site than they have been with these blogs, as I have felt impressed by the Lord to share my love for Him from all the aspects of my life, not just my devotional writing.

I hope you will join me tomorrow and every day as the Lord shows me what to write about and share on this new site. And of course, feel free to always come back to my devotional blogs here at www.sheddinglightonthepath.blogspot.com and search through them and read them to your heart's content. My plan is that these writings will be organized into books soon, and I will let you know when and how you can purchase them when that time comes, but I have no plan to remove them from the internet at this time.

So, have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and I will see you tomorrow at: www.withallyourlife.com

Blessings,
Peggy


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Umblemished Offering

The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” Psalm 147:11

Too many times when we look to give something to the Lord as an act of worship, I think we look to the “law”, either that of what the bible says is acceptable sacrifice or that which the church we attend has interpreted as an acceptable sacrifice or offering, and we just follow the script we have been given and give to the Lord in that manner. And although giving to God in “acceptable” terms is not really deceptive towards God, as God was warning His people in the following text written by the prophet Malachi, I do feel that doing so is on the lines of a sin of omission.

'But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male and makes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished – For I am a great King', says the Lord of hosts, 'And My name is to be feared among the nations.” Malachi 1:14

When we take out a check-list and make the list itself a determining guide for what we choose to offer the Lord, we essentially take God out of the picture. The Lord wants us to look beyond our lists and look to Him instead. To Him we make our offering of worship and to Him alone the offering or sacrifice is meant to be pleasing. The factor that tends to push us towards seeking our lists instead of seeking from the Lord what He wants from us, is that the list allows us to choose and the list allows us to stay in charge. If we truly got down on our knees and inquired of the Lord what He desired from each of us, we would find His inquiry not only personal but when followed through a perfect act of worship from us to Him.

To the Israelites of long ago, who were shepherds, the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb meant that they were to keep the blind, lame, and sickly lambs for themselves and not offer them to the Lord. If it had been their choice on which lamb to give up from their flock, of course they would have chosen one of the blemished lambs – still a sacrifice in their own eyes and yet not as costly to them and their flock as the lamb the Lord was asking them to give. Our human nature just tends to lean to self-preservation even when we know in our minds that we should not.

The Lord desires each of us to give Him unblemished sacrifices - wholly and fitting to what He asks us to give Him and not something we contrive off of a list and have interpreted as acceptable to God. Unwittingly our human nature will not allow us to make those sacrifices pleasing to God for long, even if we start out with good intentions in that direction. Yes, some day in heaven we will not need to worry about fighting against our human nature when we live in the presence of the Lord for eternity and no longer have the pull of sin to make our ways constantly in opposition to the ways of the Lord, but for now each day is a struggle to give to the Lord what is due to Him and not keep it for ourselves to use in our instinctively selfish hearts.

But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.” Revelation 21:27

Whether you are seeking to make an offering at church or you are looking to serve the Lord in some manner or another today, do not do so without inquiring of the Lord first. What did He ask that you should give Him or do for Him today? Not only does inquiring of the Lord leave Him on the throne in your heart as you seek to serve Him and worship Him, but also it ensures that the product of all you offer the Lord will be fruitful for His kingdom and used to glorify Him and Him alone.  We must trust Him no matter what, stay within His plan, and from that our faith will give to the Lord more and we could ever give to Him out of our own efforts and our own willingness to sacrifice all for Him.

Obedience and Faith Lead to God's Rest

Here was my post for yesterday.  Unfortunately when traveling internet is not always available when you want it, but thanks for your patience.

For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it...Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience...Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fail after the same example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4: 2, 6, 11

I don't know about you, but this is the time of the year that many people I know come face to face with certain family members who say they are Christians, and who even maybe attend church on a regular basis, but at the same time lack real godly rest (peace) in their lives. God commands us to be diligent to enter His rest, but in going back to verses 2 and 6 above, we see that in order to find ownership of that rest we must be willing to accept all He has to tell us in complete confidence and faith.

For people who spend their lives in church, hearing quaint sermons about the “stories of the bible” on their weekly Sunday outings, there is no godly rest which is able to enter their lives because the words they hear do not go any further than the page of the bible in which they are written. God never intended for His words to stay within the bible for us to read and to re-tell as stories to just pass down
 from generation to generation from pulpit to pew. Yes, God has preserved His word from generation to generation through its translation by those who have sought Him and have desired to keep His word accurate and readable throughout the world. But, the Holy Spirit has been given as a gift to us from Jesus so that we are never just left with words that do not preach their own sermons to us on a daily basis and in an intimate manner that calls us to live in faith towards the One who speaks through those words into our hearts.

Maybe you are a relative of a person who lives with their bible words on the page and does not see the need to do anything more with them. Disobedience towards the Lord is the only product of leaving God's word on the page and then going about living a life that is self-pleasing when the book is shut. And, the only way to move beyond this type of disobedience is to pray for God to make His words real to the reader and for the Holy Spirit to do His divine work to bring the words of God alive to the hearer.

So, if past suggestions of a living a more godly life or gifts of devotionals or religious materials have not yet lead your family member towards knowing God in a more intimate way through His word, maybe this next year the greatest gift you could give that person is a commitment to pray for him/her every day. Make it your purpose and prayer on a regular basis that this person may see their need for God's word in their life daily, that they may allow the Holy Spirit to work on their heart and change it through what they read, and that they may enter the rest that God has promised all who hear His word and accept it in faith that it will be as He says.

Giving the gift of God's peace and rest is the best gift to give and although it will costs you greatly on your knees it is a timeless gift that will produce fruit for eternity – better than any gift I could think of giving, even this late in the season.

Friday, December 28, 2012

God is Love AND Love is God

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:7-11

The final chapter in the book, The Attributes of God by AW Tozer concentrates on love. It was a very fitting attribute for me to study today since today marks my husband and mine's 18th wedding anniversary. I know years ago I used to hear couples talk about how their many years of marriage had gone by “in the blink of the eye” and I never could imagine how that could be, but looking back over our past 18 years it really has seemed that short.

As I think about our marriage in relation to the marriage of the Lamb to His bride, the church, I think about how our many days in eternity will also be “like the blink of an eye” and yet we will never have to pray as my husband prayed this evening that God grant us many more wonderful years in our future together. In eternity every day will be filled with complete and perfect marriage bliss and we will never have to live with thoughts in the back of our minds that some day those days of bliss will come to an end – what a wonderful thought!

As I was reading through the chapter on God's attribute of love and how scripture defines God through that attribute, AW Tozer pointed out something I had never really thought of before in reference to the three words in 1 John 4 that tend to throw a lot of Christian off kilter when it comes to trying to define God in the terms of love.

When scripture says, 'God is love,' it is not defining God...to equate love with God is to go way off in your own theology...[instead] God and love are equal to each other – identical...'God is love,'...means that love is an essential attribute of God's being. It means that in God is the summation of all love...God can do nothing except...in love...So when God redeems a man in love, or damns another man in justice, He's not contradicting Himself, His justice and love are working together in the unitary Being of God.” AW Tozer

To think that grace is love is not understanding that “God is love”, to think overlooking offenses without considering their ramification is not understanding that “God is love.” Yes, God does extend grace when we sin and when things are done outside of His will and His law of truth, but that grace is extended at the price of the cross and through the blood of Christ. Grace is not free to God – grace comes with pain, thankfully pain that He is willing to absorb for our betterment.

Likewise, our relationships with other people, if we are to show the love of Christ, must also absorb much pain in order to provide grace and love just like our Father. I have had to deal with a very difficult situation over the past month with a fellow Christian who seemed to not understand that godly love could be anything more than viewing the lives of others from the perspective of permissible grace. She has the view that God equals her human perspective of love and unfortunately she started misquoting scripture at me in defense of her view because there came a point a few weeks ago that my theology of "God is love" had to make a hard stance which disagreed with hers.  (I had prayed for God to allow it to happen in a much more civil interaction, but as it turned out that was not His will.)

I have grieved over this conflict and the continued righteous attitude this woman continued to have towards me. I have prayed fervently, fasted and sought God about what I should do or not do in trying to show love as God would desire for me to show it to this women and her family. What God in the end asked me to do was to be silent, to pray for this woman and her family, to allow Him alone to work in their lives, and not to interfere with His plan for them. I was a little taken aback at this request at first, but when I looked at how God has dealt with me in the past, in His love, He has been silent and He has allowed me to walk on the crooked path away from Him while I have been caught up in my haughty mindset, and amidst it all, He alone has worked in the resultant difficulties I have had to face.  In hindsight I found myself humbled about how my perception of God changed during these wayward times and I came back on the road with Him eventually realizing that He was much more than I ever thought He could be or could have been convinced of apart from learning my lesson the hard way.

I guess what I am getting at here, is that to define love in the terms man and then to define God as love in that narrow view of what we tend to equate to love will never work if we are to truly show love to our fellow man as 1 John 4 tells us we should. The next time you look at the section of 1 Corinthians 13 about love, remember that all the things that equate to love are in the manner than God would act towards us with love. If we are to suffer long, then we must be willing to suffer as long and as hard as God has suffered for us. If we are to be kind, we are not to be kind like our fellow man towards one another, we are to be kind the way God is kind to us. If we are not to envy, then we are not to envy what God does not envy. If we are not to parade our love around and puff it up to look all righteous and extra blessed, it doesn't mean we slink away and hide ourselves from enjoying the love we have been given to live in, but we do need to honor that love as God does in order to make it more beautiful in how we live in that love...And the list goes on and on to follow the verses through.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8


The love God calls us to exhibit love in this world as a reflection of Him - it is tough love because it is love that most in this world has no concept of.  It is love in truth and it is love that comes with the most ultimate cost not only from God but also as best we can live it out for God as He calls us to. We must be willing to love others as God loves us and our fellow man. How that love is made manifest is different for every situation and towards every person, but thankfully we have the Holy Spirit who guides us along in living out the love of God in our day to day lives so if we listen to Him and obey Him we will always be showing His love to a watching world.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Believing in a Faithful God

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Our human nature draws us to look at what we can see, what we can touch, and what we can think up in our own minds. And yet, the Lord calls us to see beyond that which is visible, to reach out to touch what is not yet in front of us, and to dream the seemingly impossible dreams He has planted in our hearts of which are yet to come in this world and the next. To live in that sort of manner requires faith, but not blind faith like that of a little girl with a fairy tale dream in her head, taking her on trips out of her current reality to live in a most wonderful place that is far removed from the life she must live day in and day out. No, our faith has a foundation set upon our God who is faithfulness Itself – He is the faithful God, the One who has already seen what our eyes cannot distinguish apart from His Spirit; the One who has already touched all He has created for us with His perfect precision and love imparted towards our lives; and, the One who has already dreamed for us things our minds cannot even conceive as possible for our future.

But what is even more amazing than how God works in His faithful way like this in our lives, is the fact that He has bound up all that He has promised ever person and every living creature in heaven and on earth in His book of promises, the Bible. For that reason, the Bible needs to be our nearest and dearest guidebook in this life. The Bible t alone holds our connection between that which we cannot perceive and that which God has already done through the end of time.

In talking about God's faithfulness, AW Tozer in his book, The Attributes of God, talks about this important connection we need to keep with God through His promises in the Bible in order to stay faithful to our God who is ever faithful in all He has spoken and done for us.

Why don't you start reading your Bible with the thought that God meant exactly what He said there?...When you read your Bible, instead of wondering about it, say to yourself, 'God wrote this and God is faithful; God cannot lie.'” AW Tozer

Maybe you have a book of bible verses called God's Book of Promises. Here are so many on the market and they have printed up books for fathers, mothers, kids, teens, college students...the list goes on and on. The commercial connection with these books I feel draws away the important use these little books could be given in reminding the Christian and non-Christian alike, about the faithfulness of God amidst any situation in life.

Below I have taken the time to list out just a few verses that highlight how God's word reminds us of His faithfulness. It would be of great encouragement to you that if you find yourself feeling trodden down by life in any of these areas, you take the accompanying verse, write it down on a card, carry it with you, recite it until you believe it and also memorize it so that it is never far from you again. In this manner, God's promises of faithfulness will never be far from you and you will be less likely to take the road of believing against your ever faithful Father.

For the sinner: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light...and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

For the tired: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

For the tempted: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

For the seemingly forgotten:For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.” Isaiah 54:7-8

For the unsettled in spirit: “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10

For the discouraged: “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

May our ever faithful God secure your faith in Him as you trust in His word and believe on Him in what He has promised beyond what our human facilities can confirm – it is a walk of faith to believe and live in the presence of a faithful God but His promises will not disappoint.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sovereignty of God

How great are His signs,
And how mighty His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And His dominion is from generation to generation...
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”
Daniel 4: 3, 35

God is sovereign. We may think that we know so much, that we have abounding choices in front of us, that we can will and do however we see fit, and yet the scope of our influence is so small in comparison to the scope on which God purposes play out in our world each and every day. Even those we esteem in our world as having great and mighty influence have no ability to change the divine and master plan of the sovereign God of our universe.

I know after the elections in November, there were many troubled hearts. And, with the fiscal cliff hanging in the balance, Obamacare looming in our near future, and many other man-made decisions threatening to affect the livelihood of our nation and ultimately affect the rest of the nations of the world, our hopes tend to get lost in the day to day events in our world. But God does not busy Himself with these things like we do, instead He looks above it all knowing where it all started and where it all will end. God has already set the course of mankind, He is not worried about the day to day choices any person makes, ruler to pheasant, because in the all encompassing divine plan He has for the world we live in, there is no one who can change the outcome of His glorious plan and His everlasting promises.

In the light of this Christmas season, I thought I would take an excerpt from AW Tozer's book, The Attributes of God in this chapter on God's sovereignty, that related Jesus as the baby in the manger to this particular attribute. I hope that what Tozer says hits a chord with you as you continue in celebrating the season and also look out towards a new and uncertain 2013.

When Jesus Christ our Lord was born, I would think He was an average baby boy who couldn't hold his heard up, couldn't speak, had no teeth...poor, helpless little lad! If they left Him alone even for a little while, He'd have died. He had the true helplessness of a baby...Here God Almighty allowed, in the irony of history, that this tiny piece of humanity...would be arrayed against the whole Roman Empire. But look who won! Before many decades had gone by, the Roman Empire went down into dust and disgrace, but the baby Jesus grew to manhood, was crucified and rose again from the dead. God raised Him up and seated Him up yonder, so that the baby that once stood opposed to the Roman Empire now looks down upon an empire that doesn't exist anymore.” AW Tozer

It is the sovereignty of God alone that keeps us from losing hope in a world filled with hopelessness and pain. God's word has given us hope in the promises He has given us in His word. Promises written AFTER God had already taken in all time from beginning to end. There is no way that things can turn out any different than He says because there is no force on earth or anywhere in the heavens that can change that plan. If you are looking towards the new year and thinking that there is not much to look forward to, I would suggest you spend some time reading God's word and the promises He has made known to us about His ultimate plan for humanity and the New Earth that is yet to come. In these things we can rest in the sovereignty of God and find the strength and hope to continue on living in a world that does not offer us the hope are hearts are seeking for.  In God alone we shall hope because in Him alone our eternal salvation and joy rest.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Light Has Come

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.”
Isaiah 9:2

For a person, like myself, who has spent many days in her past in very dark places, the words of Isaiah above that speak of the prophesied birth of Jesus, have the most profound meaning out of all the verses that proclaim who Jesus came to be to the world. As I get older and grow closer and closer to my Lord and Savior each day through the relationship He allows me to have with Him, I grow more and more aware of just how necessary His light is to my life and how lost I was, and still can be more often than I would like to admit, without Him.

This Christmas I have spent a lot of my day reflecting on the past three years that we have lived on our farm and the darkness and light that have been in contrast through the many circumstances the Lord has taken us through since we moved here. Life has been hard on many levels and yet the light of the Lord has never failed us as we have been obedient to always look to Him, walking one step at a time, day in and day out.

I don't know what Christmas means to you or how the coming of Jesus has most greatly impacted your life, but it seems that those two things should line when you take time to reflect on the two together since Christmas is really about how Jesus came to impact the world – our Lord Incarnate – Emmanuel.

Well, I just want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas as you wrap up this day of celebration! The Light is still shinning, and I am more thankful than words allow me to describe the gift Jesus personally is to me.  May the gift of Jesus be the best gift you received this Christmas since He is the reason for the season and without Him you would be lost in this world of darkness and sin.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Angels

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'” Luke 2:13-14

On the night of Jesus’ birth, a multitude of angels declared a short but very mighty message to the shepherds. A message which first declared and praised the nature of God, and second declare the all encompassing nature of God directed towards mankind and creation.

As the majority of us will be hearing these words read in church services around the world today, I would like to take some time this morning to expand upon the meaning of some of the words in this declaration so when it is read to us again as we celebrate the birth of Jesus we can share the awe of this declaration with the shepherds and what they were told that night so long ago.

The word “glory” is the Greek noun “doxa”. This word is used to equate to the total divine nature of God, that which is completely revealed from beginning to end. Right now, when we praise and worship God we do with a limited and incomplete picture of who God is because of the mask of sin we wear and the limits of time and space we are subject to. But thankfully, when this world comes to an end and God is displayed in all His glory on the throne of heaven, our worship will be unhindered just as the worship the angels displayed towards God that night to the shepherds. We can only imagine now what that type of worship will look like, but the shepherds that night got a foretaste of heaven and we can only imagine what a wondrous sight that was.

The word “peace” is the Greek noun “eirene”. This word means a divine promise that is brought about by God’s mercy to grant deliverance and freedom from distress. I can't think of a more wonderful promise being declared by the God of the universe. Mercy is the ultimate gift all mankind needs and that night the angels declared God's mercy had come to the earth and it's purpose in essence was so save humans from the constant distress of sin that this world, even to the core of each of our hearts, plagues us with.


Finally, the word “goodwill” is the noun “eudokia”. This word means a free will offering for a gracious purpose upon the recipient. Therefore the angel’s proclamation told of the divine promise, Jesus, who was being sent out of God’s great mercy as a free will offering intent to pour grace and love on all people and all of God’s creation with the sole purpose of delivering us all from distress. That was, and still is, the gift of Jesus.

Jesus came as a gift from the Father who is beyond our comprehension. His ability to love, give grace, and bestow mercy on the undeserving and the fatally flawed is a gift we all need and yet in this world can only begin to understand how necessary He is to our survival. Jesus was sent not because we or any part of God’s tainted creation could do anything to deserve the gift of Him, but rather as a free offering from the Father, whose greatest desire is to give the gift of deliverance to His all encompassing creation (man and world alike).

Jesus is the deliverer, the One and Only Son of God, the Perfect Lamb, the Prince of Peace...He alone is able to remove all sin and death and restore everything back to the glorious perfection in which all was conceived to be before the beginning of time. And now, because of His victory over death, the glorious perfection that awaits us for eternity stands before us and asks us to accept Him as gift from our loving Father.

What are you going to do with the gift of Jesus this year? I hope you will sing out your praises to your heavenly Father, just as I plan to do today, and rejoice along with the angels in declaring the glory of God that has brought peace to the earth and goodwill toward man.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jesus Lamb of God

“…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He [Jesus] indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:18-21

Today in church, our pastor was talking about how our commercialized view of the stable portrays for us a scene that is completely wrong. If we were to consider the simple scriptural description of the scene at hand, we would likely set a scene before us that includes a grungy and dirty barn/cave, not a perfectly manicured stable with clean animals, and gold accents to boot.

As I have been reminiscing Christmas' past and also thinking about the discrepancy our pastor was talking about this morning, my memories go back to the first year we lived on our farm where we were snowed in on Christmas Eve. And, since we were unable to make it to church that Christmas, we decided instead to have our own service, which of course meant the evening program was going to have a little twist just like everything else our family tends to do.

As we read through the first few chapters of the book of Luke that evening, we had our children wrap a doll in a rag and then place it in an old basket with some hay we had gathered from the barn. What we ended up having before us was not a pretty sight. The lesson exposed through that dirty hay and rag was profound , but realized instantly by us all: Jesus as a newborn did not get any better treatment then one of our lambs in the barn!

John 1:29 states Jesus is “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And, 1 Peter 1:18-21 (above) continues to explain the relationship of how Jesus, the perfect lamb, finished the work of redemption.

Tomorrow, as we once again start our celebrations of the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve around the world, it is easy to put our eyes upon a sweet little baby  in a manger and relish the gift of God coming with picture perfect traditional scenarios surrounding what we observe. But in doing so, we allow the true gift of Christmas to stay wrapped and hidden - not opened and enjoyed for the incredible gift that is contained within what we gaze so dearly upon.

Yes, Jesus is the gift to mankind from our Father God, but also Jesus came as a lamb, a perfect lamb and a perfect sacrifice. He did not come into this world or leave this world in a manner that would make anyone treat Him as God, which He was and still is. Rather, He came into and left this world as a lamb, a life given as a sacrifice from beginning to the end so that the plan of redemption could be completed and we could be saved from the clutches of sin forever.

As our pastor wrapped up his message this morning, he related the dirty stable to our hearts that Jesus also came to live in.   My 8 year-old daughter, thinking about her physical heart, said, “I think living in my heart would be worse than living in a grungy stable.” And although she didn't quite understand the analogy our pastor was pointing to, I had to agree with her. My sinful heart is that last place even I desire to dwell, and here the perfect Son of God, Jesus, not only came to earth to live His first day (if not more) in a dirty barn, but He came for the ultimate purpose of living every day in the dirty hearts of men and women - those who chose to accept Him as their Lord so He could set them free for eternity.

What a gift!  One that we need to unwrap and praise Him for every day, not just once a year at Christmas time.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wisdom of God

...the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3

I don't know about you, but the older I get the more I realize I don't understand. The reality of life is not that you lose knowledge as you get older, but you gain more wisdom as you relate two oppositional stores of knowledge that become clearer and clearer the closer you get to seeing them relationally – that which you do know and that which you do not know.

I remember years ago going to a presentation at my brother's home, one which didn't take me long to realize was a New Age/Hindu self-help organization presentation, where the presenter drew two circles on the board in front of the group. Towards the tiny circle he had made in the middle of the paper, he said, “This represents everything you know.” Then for the bit bigger circle that he drew around the tiny one, he said, “This represents everything you know you don't know.” And finally he stated, “The rest of the paper represents everything you don't know you don't know.”

After looking at the paper and thinking hard about what this man just said, I said a quiet prayer, “Thank You God that You not only know everything that is on that page, but you also know everything that this page would contain if the paper were to expand out to infinity in all directions. This is the essence of the wisdom of God and the reality of what we really know in comparison. The presenter was partially right, but then again all false religions exist within the parameters of partial truth.

God, in His all knowing and all wise wisdom has shared with us that of Him which we can but barely understand with the help of the Holy Spirit. True faith, true religion, all that hinges on the One True God is based on the perfect all consuming wisdom that is Him. I will let AW Tozer explain how what we believe as Christians completely hinges on the perfect wisdom of God as we continue on in following the chapters of his book, The Attributes of God. (Just on a side note for those of you who keep up with my blogs on a consistent basis, I will pick up on this theme again on the 26th and then wrap it up on the 28th.)

“In redemption, Christ was crucified:
'...Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God...But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory' 1 Corinthians 1:24, 2:7
In salvation, God requires us to repent and believe. This is done by the wise counsel of God:
'For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.' 1 Corinthians 1:21
And in the consummation, we also see God's wisdom:
'...to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places...' Ephesians 3:10
So in all this, the all-wise wisdom of God is being revealed.
The crux of your life lies right there..it's either got to be God's wisdom or yours. It's either God's way or yours. All that you and I have lived for, hoped for and dreamed over in our heart of hearts – life, safety, happiness, heaven, immortality, the presence of God – hinges on whether you're going to accept the ultimate wisdom of the Triune God, as revealed in the Scriptures and in His providential working in mankind. Or are you going to go your own way?” AW Tozer

Think back to that illustration I gave you in my story of the circles on the page. Are you really willing to direct your life based on the knowledge within the little circle on that page and an understanding that there is infinite knowledge which God posses, that which He desires to guide your life by within the parameters of His love for you, which will direct you through this world better than any way you could ever think up or dream on your own? We can't live following our own wisdom AND the wisdom of God because they will never agree due to our fallen nature. The choice is either one or the other, and in looking at the paper the only sensible choice is really to trust in the God who has revealed Himself to us through our Savior Jesus and let Him guide the way into all that we cannot comprehend or even imagine.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Knowledge of God

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power;
His understanding is infinite.”
Psalm 147:5

What do you know about God? Or maybe I should ask instead, what has God revealed to you about Himself? In reality, both questions should lead you to answer in the same manner. What we know about about God is those parts of Himself that He allows to the Holy Spirit to reveal to us.

...the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” 1 Corinthians 2:10b – 12

There will never be a point in our lives, or even in the combined lives of every human who has walked on this earth, where the full knowledge of God will be fully and completely revealed to the world. The knowledge of God is beyond the grandest thoughts any human minds could ever imagine or even contain. Today, as we are still continuing on in studying the attributes of God while following the book The Attributes of God, we come upon God's omniscience – His limitless understanding.

In reading the chapter from Tozer this morning, I was most profoundly struck by the things he said about the inability of man to really understand the unlimited knowledge that God possesses. I don't know about you, but in my past I have caught myself many times thinking, “I really have my life figured out. I completely understand who God is because of how He has been working in my life. I am on a good path and I shall not be deterred.” Boy, are those words that will flip your world upside-down faster than you can allow them to spew out of your mouth. God will not be mocked and when He sees within us a haughty spirit that thinks it knows and understands everything about Him, He is certain to give us a lesson we cannot deny both experientially and theologically.

You can know God experientially...[but] the more you know about God theologically the better you can know Him experientially...The purpose of doctrine is to lead you to see and to know God experientially, to know God for Himself, for yourself. But until we know God theologically, we're not likely to know God very well experientially...We must come to God reverently, on our knees...You never see God when you're standing boldly on your feet, in full confidence that you'll amount to something...The rule is, if you can think it, God isn't like that.” AW Tozer

The real truths and knowledge of God are found nowhere else, but on our knees. I find that when my heart is poured out like the drink offerings of old, when my life has little to give, and my soul is pressed by the greatest despair – it is then that God shares with me a speck of knowledge of Him that I did not know before. Never does God share the deep secrets of who He is with those who have elevated hearts and minds, Christian or not. God knows how prideful we can become when we gain knowledge separate from a humiliated heart before His throne. Our wisdom is nothing and must be moved out of the way if we ever want just a portion of God's wisdom to be revealed in our life.

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For 'who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:13-16

If today you are seeking the knowledge of God, don't spend your time searching your past experiences to figure out more about God or theologically try to scrape a word or two out of your bible that you can cling onto for your own peace of mind. Instead, get in a quite place, get on your knees, and pour out to God all that you are not and all the ways your life has failed to trust and obey who He has already revealed to You that He is. When you are real before Him, the real you He already knows because He is an omniscient God, He will give you “the mind of Christ” which is filled with greater knowledge than any man could ever conceive.  That is where true knowledge alone can be found.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jesus is Always the Same

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Change is a constant in our world. Yesterday I woke up and the ground outside our house was pretty bare and the wind was mild. Today, I woke to an entirely different scene. This morning the ground is covered in a blanket of snow, and more is still falling rapidly. On top of that, the winds have started blowing in tremendous gusts – not a safe thing when you consider the drifting that has already begun, here in the country where there is nothing to stop all of the wind from depositing the snow where it wills.

But, weather is just one of the constantly changing things in our world which affects us every day. People change, circumstances change – just spend a little time watching the news or reading some history and you will find that the only thing constant in this world is change. And, for those who only have the things of this world holding their beliefs, emotions, and relationships together, they are on a constant search for something they will never find in the places they are looking. They are people running in circles, searching for something stable to rest on that they will never find, because Jesus alone is the One stable resting place.

As Christians we can look to our world and see change, but because we have fixed in our eyes on our Savior, who does not change, we can still rest and find peace in a world that is constantly whirling out of control. The consistency of God, which we find in all three members of the trinity, is the attribute of God we are focusing on today as we continue following AW Tozer through his book, The Attributes of God. This morning I picked an excerpt from the book that focuses on Jesus in particular and the visible characteristics He showed while He lived in human form and what His actions then, because of His immutable nature always, mean to us still today.

There is a real sense in which nobody knows rest of the mind or heart until they find it in Jesus Christ our Lord...And you'll find Him yesterday and today and forever the same...If you turn to Him for clearer light, you'll find the same Jesus as when He gave the blind their sight – the very same Jesus. He'll feed you as He fed the multitude, He'll calm you as He calmed the sea. He'll bless you as He blessed the children. He'll forgive you as He forgave the woman that fell at His feet in her shame. He'll give you eternal life as He gave eternal life to His people. He'll wash you as He washed their feet, back there. He's the same! The God we preach is the same God, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and ever.” AW Tozer

The only thing this earth has ever held that was constant, was the nature of Jesus. The rest of the things around us are fleeting and changing every moment of every day. When we start to rest our hopes and dreams on anything else than Jesus Himself we should know that we are in for a not-so-pleasant surprise when that thing we put our hope in changes beneath us and brings us down to our knees once again before the throne of Christ. We must remember that everything outside of Jesus is shifting sand beneath our feet and not a solid foundation on which we should build our lives or even rest our hopes and dreams upon.

As you take time today to reflect on where your feet are planted in the shadow of our immutable Savior, remember that your efforts need to be grounded in Him alone and nothing else. Take time that is set apart from the world to just focus on Jesus and that is where you will find rest in His immutable nature and the only secure and solid footing in this ever changing world.