Friday, June 27, 2008

Psalms of Ascent Part 5

Psa 124:1 A Song of degrees of David. If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, now may Israel say;
Psa 124:2 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us:
Psa 124:3 Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:
Psa 124:4 Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul:
Psa 124:5 Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.
Psa 124:6 Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.
Psa 124:7 Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.
Psa 124:8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

This Psalm again shows the impossibility of the pilgrim making it to the end without the sovereign intervention of God. The pilgrim is almost swallowed, almost, but not quite. As Paul put it, “Persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed…” (2 Cor. 4:9).

We have a very real implacable enemy who is intent on our destruction, he lays all manner of traps to snare us. However above him is God, “Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.” It is God who warns us of the snares that have been laid in our path, and it is God who can deliver us if we are snared.

A snare always has a bait that appeals to something within us. Our enemy knows our weaknesses and he baits his traps well. The fear of the Lord and the counsel of wise men are fountains of life that keep us from these snares (Prov. 13:14; 14:27). As we fear the Lord and head wise counsel, we are made aware of traps and can avoid them. This is the best way.

David who penned this Psalm was snared, but delivered by God through much difficulty. The same God who keeps us from falling can also deliver us if we have fallen if we will call to Him. It is God alone who can show us the snares it is God alone who can break them and deliver us if we have fallen, so when we arrive at our eternal inheritance we will all fall before His throne for what He alone was able to do in bringing us there. Praise His name!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Psalms of Ascent Part 4

Psa 123:1 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.
Psa 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.
Psa 123:3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.
Psa 123:4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

This Psalm shows the reliance of the pilgrim upon God. The pilgrim is in distress from complacent people and proud people. Those who have ceased to move forward wonder why anyone else would go on and scorn them. Also those who are proud and are resisted by God have contempt for those who are going on by the mercy and grace of God.

The pilgrim appears to have no other recourse but God. He is waiting earnestly looking for the slightest sign of movement, just as a servant waits for a signal from his master. The pilgrim waits for a sign of mercy, because he knows “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16). As we study these Psalms it becomes more and more clear that as we go on with God there will be opposition and the only way we will make it through is the mercy of God. Unto Him be glory forever and ever!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Psalms of Ascent Part 3

Psa 122:1 A Song of degrees; of David. I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of Jehovah.
Psa 122:2 Our feet shall stand within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Psa 122:3 Jerusalem is built like a city that is all joined together as one;
Psa 122:4 where the tribes go up, the tribes of Jehovah, to the testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of Jehovah.
Psa 122:5 For there were set the thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.
Psa 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; those who love you shall be blessed.
Psa 122:7 Peace be within your walls, blessings within your palaces.
Psa 122:8 For my brothers and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within you.
Psa 122:9 Because of the house of Jehovah our God I will seek your good.

This next Psalm of Ascent describes the attitude of the true pilgrim toward the Church. There should be a gladness in our hearts to come into the presence of God, and to come into His house. We should be settled into the local church God has ordained for us, and if we are currently not in a church we should seek God for the right church to attend. Our membership and usefulness in the invisible church is shown through our commitment to the local visible church God has for us.

Next is the thought of Jerusalem being a composite city. Historically Jerusalem belonged to none of the tribes, though it lay in the territory of Benjamin, on the border with Judah, yet it belonged to all the tribes. It was the common goal of all the pilgrims. We also should recognize this and seek peace with all who are truly sharing this journey, though they may be of a different denomination or group. We should pray for blessing upon our local church and for the Church as a whole in our land and worldwide, because it is the dwelling place of our God and His tool to accomplish His work in this world.

Psalms of Ascent Part 2

Psa 121:1 A Song of degrees. I will lift up my eyes to the hills. Where shall my help come from?
Psa 121:2 My help comes from Jehovah, who made Heaven and earth.
Psa 121:3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Psa 121:4 Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Psa 121:5 Jehovah is your keeper; Jehovah is your shade on your right hand.
Psa 121:6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
Psa 121:7 Jehovah shall keep you from all evil; He shall keep your soul.
Psa 121:8 Jehovah shall keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.

With the previous Psalm being so depressing, this one is needed as an encouragement. Those who are persecuted for righteousness, under intense and unrelenting opposition cast their eyes upward looking for a source of hope… They find the Lord.

How do we survive opposition, slander and everything else? We have a keeper Who never sleeps. We are watched day and night in our entrances and exits. Christ promised to build His Church in spite of the opposition from hell’s gates, and we can know that as we go on with God we will have opposition, but we will have a power stronger than the strongest opposition with us.

This Psalm relates also to the continued existence of Israel even in the face of all the persecution that they have faced worldwide. They are kept until their turning as a nation to Christ at His second coming.

Psalms of Ascent Part 1

Psa 120:1 A Song of degrees. In my trouble I cried to Jehovah, and He heard me.
Psa 120:2 Deliver my soul, O Jehovah, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
Psa 120:3 What shall be given to you? Or what shall be done to you, O false tongue?
Psa 120:4 Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of broom.
Psa 120:5 Woe is me, that I live in Mesech; I dwell in the tents of Kedar!
Psa 120:6 My soul has long dwelt with a hater of peace.
Psa 120:7 I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.

The Psalms of degrees or ascent were pilgrim songs that were sung as the journey was made toward Jerusalem for the feasts. In a sense these are road maps showing certain things that we will encounter on our own path to Zion, God’s ultimate for our lives.

The first Psalm begins with an appeal to God, because of slander and falsehood. A mere perusal of these psalms will show that it is only in the midst of intense opposition that this journey can be accomplished. Those who go on with God will face fiendish opposition from people who hate peace. We have an implacable enemy of our souls who stirs up men against us. His greatest weapon is words, words like sharp arrows that wound and fester.

From the onset this journey on with God is laid out as being difficult, we will face people who are willing to say any sort of slander, and believe the worst.

In the natural this Psalm lays out the history of Israel, dwelling among Mesech and Kedar (Mesech was a northern barbarous group living around the Black Sea, and groups from that area periodically invaded the Middle East, Kedar was the descendant of Ishmael that Mohammed claimed descent from and thus refers to the muslim nations in general). Natural Israel is surrounded by these nations and as we see even today is not even acknowledged as a nation by them. This will be the state of affairs until Christ returns, with much talk of peace, but no true peace.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Knowing Your Enemy

In World War II, The Germans had an elite SS Force known as the Brandenburg SS. These were an educated and highly fit fighting force who also could all speak 4 languages fluently. They were deployed into enemy zones prior to German assualts in enemy uniform to aid in confusing the enemy. Two of the main times they were used was in the prevention of the destruction of bridges in Holland by impersonating Dutch soldiers still on the other side, and also in their impersonation of American MPs during the battle of the Bulge.

To survive in war it is essential to recognize your enemy, with that in mind let’s look at 1 Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul…”
Peter tells us that we are in a war against fleshly lusts. Do we know our enemy? Many times we do not. We play around with ungodly desires as if they were our harmless friends: desires of materialism, desires of popularity, desires of lust. These are not harmless, these are making a war against our very soul. Like enemies in our own uniforms they sweep deep into our heart and prepare the way for the onslaught of darkness.

Remember, you are a pilgirm and a stranger here. Recognize the desire for what it is… a fleshly evil enemy of you and God, and deal with it, or it will deal with you. Fight the good fight and may God be with you!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Christ’s Unanswered Prayer

In John chapter 17 Jesus prays for all His disciples present and future, that they would be kept in the world, and sanctified through the Word, then He prays something extraordinary… Joh 17:20-23 “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.“

Christ prays for unity on the basis of glory. That the glory of God which had been given to Christ would be upon them and that it would effect a unity among them. So that they might be one even as the Father and Son are one.

I think it is clear that the Church has not yet entered into this prayer, “That they may be one, even as we are one.” The importance of this prayer cannot be overemphasized, it was one of Christ’s last acts before His crucifixion when He was pouring out His very heart to His disciples. His love for unity and hatred for disunity is seen in Proverbs 6:17-19 where the last abomination in God’s sight is those who sow discord.

It is my belief that this prayer will be fulfilled in the last day revival, it clearly is not fulfilled in the Church at present. It must be fulfilled because Christ prayed it in accordance with the will of the Father and from the context it must be fulfilled on earth though, of course, the Church is united in heaven. It is the glory that God will send that will unify us.

One thing we must understand is the nature of the unity. Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one. It therefor is essential to understand the Trinity. If The Father and Son and Holy Spirit are merely different manifestations of one person then what would this mean for this verse? It would follow, that we are to become some sort of pantheistic global soul, a unity of submerged and lost identity.

However, when we properly understand the Trinity the picture of the unity becomes clear. Three persons one will, one substance, one God, One in purpose, one in humility, perfectly one. What sort of unity are we called to? A unity in glorifying another not ourselves, even as Christ glorified the Father, and the Spirit glorifies the Son. The Father does not glorfiy Himself the Son does that, the Son does not glorify Himself the Holy Spirit does that. The Spirit does not defend Himself, instead the Father and Son do. In this unity we will always be individuals, but with a will submitted to the will of the Father, laying down our lives for each other. We are all unique, but joined together in one body each performing our own function. As we each focus upon Christ and His plan for our life we learn to function with others. As long as we focus on Christ and run after Him, He will show us any thing in which we need to change (Php 3:15).

In the end in spite of ourselves, Christ will have a perfect Bride. Praise His Name!