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I simply love the written word of God, but although I’ve made a fresh commitment annually, the last decade has been a real struggle for me to read through the Bible.  I always start off with the best intentions and renewed enthusiasm, but, alas, I can’t seem to keep it up an entire year.

My personal opinion is that such commitments and resolutions contain the seeds to their own failure, which is why most people can’t maintain them. “The strength of sin is the law.” And, just like a sign that says, “Wet paint. Don’t touch!” a privately imposed law to “Read the bible every day!” just begs to be broken.  Also, force of will is not a gratifying way to read the Bible, if you know what I mean.

So, I went looking for a reading program that could take advantage of my love of the Bible without making a law out of it.

I started this year with a method produced by Four Streams Ministries that would cover the Old Testament once, the New Testament twice, and Psalms and Proverbs four times a year by hitting each of those areas almost daily.  On the upside, I loved that it covered a lot of Bible and that it was delivered to my smart phone by YouVersion daily, but the downside was that I kept finding myself having to stop just when I was getting interested.  But I’ve had that problem with other reading plans, too; if you read ahead, you mess the whole thing up.  I got frustrated with it after a couple of months.

Enter the “Rejoicing in the Lord Bible Reading Plan”

Here’s how it works. Sunday through Friday are each allocated a certain section of God’s word, and, as long as the reader completes at least three chapters, he is free (sweet liberty) to read as much as he wants to in that section.  I’ve found myself easily going five to ten chapters a day with no law needing to be fulfilled to do it, and no force of will, either.  And without having to reset the plan just because I kept reading.

As an added bonus, because I know that I won’t be back in a given section until next week, I tend to want to get to a good stopping point.  That means that I am reading more.

But what about the three chapter minimum? Isn’t that a requirement? Well, we know it takes about three chapters a day to read through the Bible in a year; so, there is a minimum, but remember the freedom taught in our Lord’s command to “go the second mile”? The second mile is the liberty mile, where dreaded compulsion is replaced by joyful yielding.  Most Bible reading programs compel you to complete a certain number of chapters per day, but leave no wiggle room for second-mile reading where you can make it a joy instead of a daily task. This one does.

And what about Saturdays? Saturday reading is wide open with no requirements other than to cover at least three chapters. You might use it as a catch up day or to get more time in a book that struck your fancy during the week. Maybe you want to increase your time in Paul’s doctrinal books or the Psalms. Go for it.  Saturdays are all yours.  Sweet liberty.

The Details

Here are the sections that I’m working with, and really like:

  • Sundays – The Gospels & Acts – I love starting the week off with the words of our Lord.  Plus, you have the added benefit that the Gospels provide a lot of built-in repetition; so, you really get to know them.  117 chapters.
  • Mondays – The Pentateuch (Gen – Deut) – This is a big section, but has a lot of great stories in it.  I always want to read more than the minimum 3 chapters.  There is also some built-in repetition here because Deuteronomy is the second giving of the Law.  At 187 chapters, you need 3.5 chapters on average to complete this section during the year, but don’t make a law out of it.  Just let yourself read a few more every couple of weeks.
  • Tuesdays – History Books (Josh – 2 Chron) – Again, there are a lot of good stories and built-in repetition between the Samuels, the Kings, and the Chronicles.  By rights, I could have included Ezra – Esther here because they are historical, but that would have made this section too long.  I tried to maintain some balance between the size of the sections.  216 chapters.  Yes, you’ll need to average 4 chapters a day, but so what?  Allow yourself to enjoy it, and you’ll do that easily.
  • Wednesdays – Poetical Books (Ezra – Song) – This section has good stories and great wisdom and comfort in it.  Because I know that I can’t just read 3 Psalms, I will move through those pretty quick.  I should be able to do this section a couple of times a year.  276 chapters, don’t forget the Psalms are 150 of these, and most of them are super short.  This is actually an easy section to finish in a year.
  • Thursdays – The Prophets (Isaiah – Mal) – Isaiah and Jeremiah’s writing dominate this section, but once you get through those, you can move quickly through the minor prophets, and repeat.  253 chapters, but you’ll make up any lost time when you get to the Minor Prophets.  Again, don’t make a law out of it.  If you don’t finish it in a year, that’s okay because there’s no rule that says you have to.
  • Fridays – The Epistles (Rom – Rev) – This is actually the smallest section by design in order to create a lot of repetition in books that are meant to “renew our minds” in the new covenant of grace. 143 chapters.
  • Saturdays – Free for all – As I mentioned above, this can be a catch-up day, or just a day to focus in on the book of your choice.  I thought about designating Psalms, Proverbs, and Romans for Saturdays because the extra repetition in those books would definitely be profitable.

Keeping track of all these sections isn’t that bad, either.  I started off using six Post-It notes, but have switched to magnetic book marks.  I read as much as I want, and then just mark it for next week.  Liberty!

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Hello Everyone,

I enjoy seeing the great photos of God’s most expressive canvas, the human face.  Here’s a 2012 photo of my little princess.

Hannah Grace

Photo Challenge Submission

John 17:1,5,22 state:

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

“Splendafied”

Some twenty years ago I had the pleasure of hearing an aged black preacher by the name of Rev. Cooper speak on these verses.  His presence was the commanding presence of a man who knew that his father was the King of Heaven.  He carried himself with authority and confidence.  I remember how his voice rolled out in booms rather than sentences.

As Rev. Cooper began to speak about the glory, he stopped himself short.  I will paraphrase his comments.

We cannot begin to comprehend what it must have been like to witness the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit glorifying each other before the foundation of the world.  The Father glorified the Son and the Spirit.  The Son glorified the Father and the Spirit.  And the Spirit glorified the Father and the Son.  God glorifying very God who glorified very God throughout eternity past–never tiring and never ending.

But the word “glorified” is too high for us.  Our capacity is too small for such a notion as God glorifying God.  But if I may, let us substitute a word more suited to our mental abilities.  Instead of “glory,” we may think of it better by using the term “splendor.”  And by extension, instead of the word “glorified” it might be better fit to our little minds if we use the word “splendafied.”

And so it was that God the Father splendafied God the Son and God the Spirit.

And God the Son splendafied God the Father and God the Spirit.

And God the Spirit splendafied God the Father and God the Son.

The Great Invitation – “Here, catch!”

There was absolutely nothing wrong and nothing missing as God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit splendafied each other.  It was perfect in harmony and in execution.  Beautiful to behold, I’m sure, and beyond our idea of fulfilling.  And although I can’t pretend to understand it all, in my mind’s eye I picture the three persons of the Holy Trinity standing in a triangle playing catch with the “glory” light.  The goal?  To keep the splendafication moving.

Then, at some point in the past, and for reasons all His own, God decided to upset the status quo.

Read verse 22 again:

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them;

Did you see that?  The Lord Jesus Christ has thrown the glory outside the triangle.  He has given to us the splendafication that God the Father passed to Him.  God the Father splendafied God the Son, and God the Son splendafied….me?

If any three persons had a right to monopolize the glory, it would be these three, but God chose to include us!  Wrap your head around that, Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

I’ll say this carefully-  Christianity is about so much more than walking on streets of gold!

The Glory Keepers

Chances are, when you first read the title of the blog entry, you probably thought that “The Glory Keepers” would be descriptive of the good guys.  But hopefully by now, you’re starting to realize that the glory keepers are the ball hogs of splendafication.  They’ve caught the ball, but they won’t throw it to anybody else.  Instead of Hot Potato, they’re playing Steal the Bacon.

I could spend another whole page describing  ways that the glory keepers hoard up to themselves the splendor that God has granted them.  How they keep the praise that should return to God.  How they refuse to be thankful or to acknowledge that all that they are and possess is a gift.  How they actively steal the splendafication that belongs to their brothers, their sisters, and even strangers.  How they simply won’t keep the splendafication moving.

Give It Away

But today I’m actually thinking more along the lines of the missed opportunity to pass along this splendafication to other strangers to the game.

How great would it be if everybody could be included in the glory passing?!  There are so many people in this world who could be invited to join us, but who will go and reach them?  Who will splendafy them with the splendafication that they’ve received from God the Son?

Didn’t God purpose to go outside of their original three to include us?  Of course, He did.

Was there less splendafication to go around when He included us…Was the splendafication somehow diluted by our inclusion?  Of course not.

Splendafication doesn’t work that way.  It grows and grows the more that it’s passed around.  So, go splendafy somebody!

The Easter Tree

Well, if you’re like us, you put up a Christmas tree this year.  I don’t have anything against Christmas trees, but if you’ve got a few moments, I’d like to talk to you about a better tree…the Easter Tree.

Better?

How could it be better than a Christmas Tree?  The Christmas Tree represents so much love and tradition in our house.  And besides that, it represents the birth of the baby Jesus.

Yes, that is true, but Matthew 20:28 tells us that Jesus Christ was born with a purpose “to minister and to give His life a ransom for many,” and He did that on the Easter Tree.  There, hanging between Heaven and Earth, the Son of God and Son of Man became “one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”  Because of the Easter Tree, we have a perfect sacrifice.

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins; Wherefore when He cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body thou hast prepared for me…For by one offering, he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

Life

But the Christmas Tree is no ordinary tree like a maple or an oak; it’s an evergreen.  It never loses its leaves, and it is symbolic of everlasting life.

That is indeed a wonderful sentiment, but if life is what you’re interested in, I invite you to “Come and See” the Easter Tree and the Saviour who hung thereon.  There, before all mankind, the gentle Prince of Life was offered for our sins, and He does not offer a symbolic life but real “everlasting life” to those who will but “Look and Live.”

In fact, He came to give us “life and life abundantly” if we’ll put our faith in the finished work that He did on that Easter Tree.  He said,

“I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; And whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall not die.  Believeth thou this?”

The Angel

On top of our Christmas Tree we have a special angel.  She has been handed down in our family for generations.  She has a golden halo and beautiful golden dress.  Does the Easter Tree have an angel?

Yes, the Easter Tree has all sorts of angels.  Allow me to explain.

First, the Easter Tree has on it the marvelous Angel of the Lord.  In the Old Testament there were many what we call “pre-incarnate appearances of Christ.”  You see, before Jesus Christ was born in a manger in Bethlehem, He was still “from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”  And He would sometimes in a bodily form interact with men.  It was as the Angel of the Lord that He appeared to Hagar in the wilderness.  And it was the Angel of the Lord who promised to Abraham that he would have a son, and Abraham worshiped Him. And to Joshua, the Angel of the Lord said, “as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.”  And it was that Angel of the Lord who became the babe in the manger, who thirty-three and a half years later died on the Easter Tree.

But that’s not all.  There was a whole army of angels also present at the Easter Tree.  The Lord said to Peter in the Garden,

“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels.”

And besides those, the Bible tells us how that there were angels “who desired to look into these things” because they were so in awe that the Creator should die for His creation.

There were angels all about the Easter Tree.

Ribbons

But what about ribbons?  Our Christmas Tree was wrapped round and round from top to bottom with shiny wide ribbons of silver and gold.

Oh, yes, thank you for asking.  Let me tell you of the ribbons on the Easter Tree.  But they were not silver and gold; the ribbons on the Easter Tree were the most precious crimson that has ever been seen by human eye.  Costly beyond measure, “sorrow and love flowed mingled down.”

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ.”

Down the Easter Tree the ribbons ran, glistening and pure, able to wash away any and all sin.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

“Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

And to those who will receive it, He saith, “This is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”

We have been “made nigh by the blood of Christ” who were sometimes far from God.  Now there is “peace through the blood of his cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself” if we’ll put our trust in Him.

And, yes, these ribbons are wide.  Wide enough for all.  Speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says,

“Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”

“Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” we say Thank You! for those precious ribbons.

Ornaments

Our Christmas Tree is covered in amazing ornaments.  All different shapes and colors, they have been collected by our family through the years.  Many are fragile, but we are careful every year when we hang them so that they won’t break.  This tradition, we’re told, comes from the fact that historically gifts were much smaller than they are today; so they would actually be hung on the Christmas Tree instead of being placed on the ground under it.  Does your Easter Tree have gifts and beautiful ornaments?

Oh, my, yes, the Easter Tree has gifts!  I am not ashamed to tell you that just like your Christmas Tree, the Easter Tree is literally weighed down by the many gifts that are upon it.  Everywhere you look on the Easter Tree, you will see gifts upon gifts.

“Do not err, my beloved brethren.  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

The first and greatest gift, the one that precedes them all, was this:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

And because the Son in turn gave His life, “He ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”

There are so many that I cannot list them all, but

“He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Those in particular are so beautiful, as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”  And, yes, they come in wonderful colors– red and yellow, black and white.

And besides these, “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”  And He gives His abiding presence and that “comfort and joy” that we sing about.

The gifts on the the Easter Tree are not fragile, for they are of God and “the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.”  But still, we handle them with respect as we work out our salvation “with fear and trembling.”

But all of these gifts (and there are many more) were first made possible because of the Greatest Gift of All.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

And with the saints of old, we cry out,

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!”

The Nativity

Under our Christmas Tree we have a Nativity, or a manger scene.  Besides the babe, His mother, and Joseph, our Nativity has kneeling wise men, shepherds, and sheep.  What does the Easter Tree have?

Oh, but you should see the Easter Tree!  The Great Shepherd was there…there where He lay down His life for His sheep.  No man took His life from Him, but He lay it down of Himself.  He had “power to lay it down” and He had “power to take it up again.”

But He is not there now.  Three days after being crucified by sinful men, He rose from the dead.  “He is risen, as He said.”

But of the sheep, alas, there were no sheep present at the Easter Tree.  They had all run away, as it is written:

“Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.”

No, no sheep, but the Lamb of God was there!  Behold! He hath “taken away the sin of the world.”

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief…He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

Praise God, there was a Lamb on the Easter Tree!

Overshadowed

But unlike the Christmas Tree, which looms so large with lights and tinsel and ornaments, overshadowing the things of Christ and the little manger scene, the Easter Tree brings God front and center.  Nothing and no one gets any glory at the Easter Tree except for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Even the things of earth grow strangely dim.  The Lord Jesus Christ isn’t tucked underneath the Easter Tree where He can hardly be seen, hidden by piles of presents and gifts.  No, He was crucified in humility before all men, high and lifted up from the earth that he might draw all men to Himself.

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.  For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

I hope that you have returned to the Shepherd.  If not, why not?

Wise Men

Which reminds me, I almost forgot about the wise men.

You know, only Heaven and eternity will reveal how many wise men and wise women, wise boys and wise girls, have come from afar and knelt at the Easter Tree to accept God’s gift of His Son and the salvation provided for there.

But did they bring gifts?

Yes, I would say that the wise ones do, for “the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he that winneth souls is wise.”

And are they kings?

Oh, yes.  Our Saviour “hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?”

Sneaky Flesh

Romans 7:9 “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”

One of the most important lessons that I’ve ever learned was that I have Sneaky Flesh.  “In my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” (Rom. 7:18)

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal. 5:17)

Your Sneaky Flesh hates God and hates to walk with God.  It will do anything it can to keep you from having a relationship with God.  You, in your renewed spirit, want to walk with the Lord…

…but Sneaky Flesh has a plan.

Watch this!

Sneaky Flesh knows that sin is revived by the commandment.  Where there’s a rule, sin ALWAYS rears it’s ugly head.  And “the strength of sin is the law.” (I Cor. 15:56)  And “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23)  When there’s a law, sin revives, and we die.

Did you figure out the sneaky plan yet?  Sneaky Flesh cannot directly defeat the Spirit of God that lives in you, calling you to walk with Christ, but he can sabotage your attempts to walk with God.  How?  By making a law, a rule, a commandment.

Here’s how it works:

You get frustrated with your on-again off-again walk with Christ, and you (Sneaky Flesh) decide one day that “Enough is enough!”  You declare, whether out loud or in your heart, “I WILL read my Bible every single day.  I WILL pray every day for at least half an hour.  I WILL never miss another church meeting again.”  (Side Note:  All those “I WILL”s should remind you of somebody, too!)

You have decided that the best way to walk with God is to create a commandment and follow it to the letter!

Ta daa.

You just stepped into Sneaky Flesh’s bear trap!  You created a commandment.  “…but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”  And Sneaky Flesh won again!  And then the devil beats you up with condemnation and thoughts like, “And you call yourself a Christian?”

You really wanted that rule to work.  You put a lot of thought into it.  You were going to be a “disciplined-iple,” but, alas, you blew it again.  My dear Christian, you were defeated from the second you thought that you could follow a living God with a dead law.  Don’t you know that “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”  Life is unpredictable, spontaneous, and alive!  So should you be.  A rule cannot follow God!

Rom. 7: 21-23   “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

What’s the answer, then?

Paul asked it this way, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

How do you discipline yourself to have a consistent walk with God without creating a sin-reviving commandment in the process?

You need the Romans 6 Prescription:

It goes like this:  Know, Reckon, and Yield to the God.

Step 1–  Rom. 6:6 “knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him.”  You need to KNOW it.  You’re dead.  Your WILL is the will of a dead man.

Step 2– Rom. 6:11 “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”   Many Christians realize that the answer to dealing with sinful temptation is to “stay dead,” but I don’t think that many go the next step to realize how to walk with Christ without creating a ruling law.  You need to reckon yourself alive unto God.  I’m not alive unto the Law anymore (Rom. 7 ), but I am alive unto God.

This doesn’t mean that I’m alive unto me, either.  I’m alive unto God.  You gotta watch that Sneaky Flesh!

Step 3– Rom. 6:13 “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”  See?  We don’t create a rule to follow God, we YIELD to follow God.  I’ll say it again, we YIELD to follow God.

The Spirit says, “Go” and we go.  The Spirit says, “Do” and we do.  The Bible commands and we simply obey.  That is yielding to God, not creating a sin-reviving commandment.  “Yes, Lord” sets us free from sin if we’ll simply let Him speak first, so that we can YIELD.  “Trust and obey.  For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to Trust and Obey!”

But be careful.  If we take His words and divorce them from Him and then create our own morale law for living, we WILL die, and Sneaky Flesh will have a hay day with us.  This happens all the time.

At no point does God need your help with how to lead you.  If He tells or leads you to read your Bible every day, then say, “Yes, Lord” and YIELD to Him.  The Spirit will enable only where the Spirit has called.  But also don’t take His command and make it your own; that leads back to a sin-revived defeat.  We must always be in subjection…always following, never leading ourselves.

This transitions nicely into Romans Chapter 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Enjoy!

So, there I was driving home from work, you know, singing and praying in the car.  I was meditating on the Spirit of Christ living inside me.  Crazy awesome thought indeed!

Taking It By Faith

What got me to thinking on these things was a sermon that I just listened to yesterday.  The preacher was talking about the dual nature of our Lord.  In His spirit, Jesus was fully God from eternity past, but His human infant body didn’t know anything about that.  And just as His human body had to learn eat and to walk and to talk, so His human brain had to learn that He was the Son of the Living God.  Mary no doubt told Him about the virgin birth and the angels, but while these events would have born witness with the Eternal Spirit inside Him, His human brain had to submit to the spirit and take it by faith.

As He read the Scriptures about Himself, the Spirit would have confirmed on the inside of Him the truth of who He was even as His Spirit now bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God (I John 5).  But while a part of us, the spirit, is fully convinced, yet our brain must take it by faith.

That’s probably why the first temptation that Satan brought against Christ was “If thou be the Son of God…”  The most subtle attack was not to turn stones into bread, but to doubt that God was His Father.  It’s the same with us; our enemy’s first lie, and his most pervasive, is that we are not really the children of God.

But There’s Another Part of Me!

But the Devil’s lie is just a lie.  The truth is that there is another part of me, where Jesus Christ lives, where God is alive.

I thank You, Father, that there’s always a part of me that’s singing.

I thank You, Father, that there’s always a part of me that is full of joy.

I thank You, Father, that there’s always a part of me that is ready to do Your will.

There is a part of me that is always content, always ready to forgive, always in perfect faith.

Praise you, Father, that there’s a part of me that always hears your voice.

Praise you, Father, that there’s a part of me that always has perfect peace.

Praise you, Father, that there’s a part of me that always hates sin.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to know that there’s a part of me that is never tempted, never wanders, and that never doubts God’s perfect love.  I can’t tell you how it thrills me to know that there is a part of me that never breaks communion with my Father, that always walks with Him.

If Thou Be the Son of God…

Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, right, Nat.  I know you, and you aren’t all that.”

Well, I guess maybe the part of me that you’ve seen isn’t “all that.”

But, praise God, there’s another part of me.

Psalm 37:4 states,

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Into the Volcano!

This would be a difficult thing to do – delighting in the LORD – were our God a religious “God” like those that men have created.  When I consider those “Gods” the word that always seems to jump to my mind is capricious.  Now, “capricious” is a big word, but it just means, “Given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior.”

Instead of delighting in a god like that “God,” his religious followers spend most of their time making excuses for their “God’s” behavior; or they worship him on eggshells, always wondering when the hammer will fall, always hoping that they’ll be found good enough.

Reminds me of the ancient Greeks, who made their gods in their own image…larger than life personalities who were– oh, there’s that word again–capricious.  Or, the island gods of the Pacific– so sovereign, so in control, that mere men MUST serve them, but so out of control emotionally that nobody could figure out exactly what they want.  All they knew is that one time long ago somebody offered the volcano a virgin and “it worked.”

But God is Good!

Fortunately, our God is not so.  For them that believe, He is “altogether lovely.” In fact, our God is love.  He is always good, always honest, always trustworthy.  He is always faithful.  He is always giving.   Always gracious.  Always wonderful.

Words fail when we begin to pen the unchanging greatness of our God.  He never changes.  He doesn’t need to.  He was, He is, and He will forever be AWESOME!

He is…You, Oh Lord, are my salvation.

He is…You, Oh Lord, are my wisdom.

He is…You, Oh Lord, are my counselor.

He is…You, Oh Lord, are my friend when all others fail me.  You are my strength when all else fails.  You are my greatest blessing.

Beyond being my Saviour, You are my guide.  Beyond being my example, You are my reward.  Beyond giving me hope, You are my life.

When I consider You, Oh Lord, all I see is your goodness and your grace and your amazing love to me.

The Overlooked “Beseeching”

I told my wife yesterday that the leadership of modern Christianity has done a pretty sorry job of declaring how good God is.

Let’s consider sin for second. First look at how Paul presented “getting right.”  First he explains how terrible sin is, and how it destroys the mind, body, and soul of it’s prisoners.  Then, he declares, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Then, he goes further, and spells out that not only did Christ’s death pay for our pardon, but that it freed up God to pour out His Spirit on men, and now He can make us fit to be blessed with “all spiritual blessings.” And after all that, Paul states,

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

Now consider how this same glorious truth is presented today.  To the lost:  “Repent or Perish.”  “Get right or get left.”

And once you’re saved it doesn’t get much better.  Can you think of an example of how “the beseeching” is left out today?  The barren landscape of commitments comes to my mind.  The empty “stirring up” of empty vessels unto service.  The call for men to be better, when, in fact, we got saved because we knew that we couldn’t be better.

Alas, where is the “beseeching by the mercies of God” today?  Did God stop being good?  Or maybe we stopped believing that He is good and started to believe that He is…dare I say it?… capricious?  I think most Christians aren’t able to make sense of this life if God IS always good, so they back up to the more defensible position of “God is God”, but inside they don’t really believe any longer that “God is good.”

Has anybody considered that Paul had it right?  Were we to whet the appetites of our brethren with our faithful telling of the greatness of our God, and then point out that their greatest obstacle to knowing Him is this flesh (and that it’s also hurting them personally), I think we’d see more people grow in the Lord.  We’d see more righteousness “by accident than we ever saw on purpose” were people to realize that the hurdle to fellowshipping with a real, living, personal, loving Father is their sin.

As we have forgotten that God is good, the motives for living the Christian life have faded from view.  In their place are the remembered behaviors of the bygone saints and the shouted consequences of what will happen to us if we don’t do what they did.  We go through the outward motions of our “heroes of the faith” but inwardly, we’re longing for something more.  Shadows cannot long sustain where substance is the goal, and so-called Churchianity isn’t satisfying the lost or the saved.

But, at last, real Christianity breaks through the gloom:

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

The glory of the Church used to be its knowing of the Father.  And if we’ll take the time to know Him again, we’ll know that He is still a God worth delighting in.