Archive for December, 2012

31
Dec
12

The Fate of Princes

“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.”Psalm 146:3-4

These verses are appropriate for our nation right now. It seems that many people have put their faith in our government, or in specific politicians to guide their lives in terms of prosperity and general welfare. They look to mortal men for shelter, food, and justice. I'm not just talking about housing programs or food stamps. There seems to be a general worship of the political process in our nation. Just look at how much media time is devoted to politics, and how many people are ignorant of the role of the Lord in prosperity and care. We are truly becoming a world of “entitled” individuals, many of whom just expect prosperity to be given to them, without the need to work for it. That is against many of the verses found in the book of Proverbs.

These verses are a reminder that powerful men are themselves mortal – they will return to the ground one day, and will not be able to save men. There is only One who can save, and only One whose plans are eternal.

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30
Dec
12

Wisdom for Future Generations

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”Psalm 145:3-7

It seems appropriate to close out the psalms with words of God's awesomeness and majesty. But this passage contains one of my favorite themes in the entire Bible – the idea of passing on the knowledge of God's greatness to the next generation.

Our family was faced with a test a few years ago, when our children were very young. Would we continue to live our lives in the same way as everyone around us, or would we seek out something more God-directed, and focus heavily on the spiritual upbringing of our children? Those questions led us to change churches, and to pull our children out of public school and begin to educate them at home – beginning each school day with time in the Word. I can honestly state that our lives were forever changed because of those decisions. And God led the way for us and our children. I think He has greatly rewarded those actions, and continues to give us blessings because of them. And now, we are teaching our children to pass on the knowledge of God's greatness to their own children….

29
Dec
12

Good and Evil

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it. Yet my prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers; their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs, and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken. They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth, so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”Psalm 141:5-7

The author here is expressing the difference between the righteous and wicked. Correction from a righteous man is welcomed and appreciated. But there are more words devoted to how the writer will feel when the wicked finally realize that they were on the wrong side of the fight. It seems that they will come to a time when they will fully understand their fate, and just how wrong they were to reject the God that created them.

I'm currently reading a book on Creation vs. Evolution, and I am saddened when I read the stories of scientists and philosophers who flatly reject the idea that God could have created everything that we know. Part of me wants to cry out, “Don't you see? Can't you understand that the trust you put into evolution through random and highly improbable events requires far more faith than simply believing in a Divine Creator?” When one studies the science behind the vast complexity of biological processes, and how they must ALL be in place at once in order for life to be sustained – how they couldn't have “evolved” one at a time – I can't help but think about verses like the ones above. Someday, these scientists will know their error. And they will realize that they will be standing in an eternal grave, separated for eternity from the God that they rejected. May God grant these men and women the wisdom to repent and acknowledge Him before it is too late!

28
Dec
12

A Time Travel Lesson

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”Psalm 139:15-16

These verses are often used as a testament to the fact that life is present from the moment of conception. But I noted how the last line helps support yesterday's blog entry – about how God is not bounded by time.

To say that all of my days were already documented and written down in God's book before I had even lived them makes me feel as if I have no choice in the matter. It sounds like God has predetermined who will live eternally with Him and who will not, and that I really am not contributing to that decision independently. That would have to be true if God (and His book) were bounded by time as we are. It would simply not be possible for us to deviate from God's book, if He had written it down in advance like a script for us to follow.

But it is those words “in advance” that are the problematic ones. If we remove God from the boundaries of time, then He is able to travel freely into the past and into the future, or to exist in them all at the same time (which is hard for us to grasp). And if He can live in the future, he can go to the moment of our death and know our deeds and actions, while simultaneously writing them down in His book in the past, before we were born! Thus, His book is not a script, but a history of our lives – observed in the future, but written down in the past! Wow.

27
Dec
12

An Intimacy of Epic Proportions

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”Psalm 139:1-4

How intimate is our relationship with God? Do we view Him as a distant being, who created everything and then watches from afar, with little involvement or care? If we think that way, we are likening God to an earthly ruler – who cannot possibly have time to know and understand each of his people.

But God is much more than an earthly ruler – He has divine characteristics which are beyond our understanding. Some of these characteristics include the ability to look over millions of people, and yet know each of them intimately, as if each individual were the only person on earth. He knows our actions and our thoughts – even before we do or think them! He sees each of us with more clarity and understanding than even our own families do.

This is hard for us to understand because of one simple reason – time. Our lives are bounded by time, which means we could never understand the lives of more than just a handful of people. But if we were removed from the shackles of time, as God is, we can begin to understand how His intimacy with millions is possible. God is unlimited. He created time. He was there in the Beginning, and before it (I believe that Genesis 1:1 refers to the creation of “time”, which means He existed before time was even a concept).

26
Dec
12

“His Love Endures Forever”

“Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”Psalm 136:26

This is one psalm which reads more like a song than a typical Bible text. “His love endures forever” ends each phrase – and this appears twenty-six times throughout the chapter, once for each verse. One can hear the Israelites singing their response to the opening lines of each verse.

Why would the psalmist choose these words as the repeating phrase? Perhaps it makes a nice rejoinder in the Hebrew language, but an enduring love is something that is dear to every human being. Every marriage starts with the desire for love to endure “unto death”, as many marriage vows claim. Unfortunately, even in this holy union, a large percentage of people stray and are ultimately disappointed. More than half of all marriages end in divorce, because the love and commitment didn't endure.

But God's love is not like that. His desire and affection for His people will follow them throughout their lives and into eternity. It's hard to understand God's love for us sometimes, especially if we see Him as a relatively impersonal figure in our lives. But He sent His only Son to die a cruel death on the cross, and let him endure the punishment for all of our sins while he hung there. What greater love is there than that? His willingness to send Jesus Christ to such a death demonstrates clearly how much He loves us and desires to have an intimate relationship with us. The Israelites sang about this in this psalm.

25
Dec
12

The Church – God’s Dwelling Place

“For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling: “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it—I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will ever sing for joy.”Psalm 132:13-16

A big question that has been on my mind lately is whether or not the nation of Israel still has a special role and special protection from God. To some extent, I believe that it does, and that God has a special role designed for Israel during the end times fulfillment. I wondered if these verses, which speak of honor for Zion, applied solely to the nation of Israel.

Some research has led me to conclude that these words are in reference to the church. After Christ's death and resurrection, the gospel was handed to both Jew and Gentile, and the New Testament church was formed. Paul's writings tell us that the church is the bride of Christ, and there is no more intimate relationship than that. These blessings – the place of God's dwelling forevermore, abundance, salvation, and joy – are meant for God's people, which is now fulfilled in His church.

 




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