Monday, August 31, 2009

Thoughts on Psalm 24

Psa 24:1 A Psalm of David. The earth is Jehovah's, and the fullness of it; the world, and those who dwell in it.
Psa 24:2 For He has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.
Psa 24:3 Who shall go up into the hill of Jehovah? Or who shall stand in His holy place?
Psa 24:4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, and has not sworn deceitfully.
Psa 24:5 He shall receive the blessing from Jehovah, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Psa 24:6 This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob. Selah.
Psa 24:7 Lift up your heads, O gates; and be lifted up, O everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Psa 24:8 Who is this King of glory? Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle.
Psa 24:9 Lift up your heads, O gates; even lift up, O everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Psa 24:10 Who is this King of glory? Jehovah of Hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.

This Psalm begins by magnifying the greatness of God. The world belongs to Him, He formed it and bears rule over it. All mankind are His subjects, whether obedient good subjects or criminal rebellious ones.
The Psalm then shifts emphasis, if there is fear in the heart of a man to approach unto a mortal monarch, who held virtually unlimited power over the subjects in those days, how can anyone approach to this Monarch whose rule and power is far greater and justice more severe? If men fear a king because of his power of life or death over his subjects, how much more He who kills and makes alive and punishes or rewards after death? To approach such a King is either the surest way to all happiness or to all misery depending upon your reception.
Then are mentioned the qualifications for a good reception: clean hands – hands that are not polluted by evil deeds; a pure heart – a heart that does not meditate on and take pleasure in evil; Who has not lifted up his soul to vanity – our soul that is our affections should be fixed on things above and not fixed on things that perish; Not sworn deceitfully – there is no falsehood in God and no falsehood can stand long in His presence, our actions must follow our words and we must be faithful even as He is faithful. It is one who does these things that receives a blessing from the Lord, surely even to be allowed into His presence is a great blessing, but from that blessing flow many others. Also this man though he has done good things to arrive at this place has not a righteousness of his own to stand in, but instead has become a candidate to receive the righteousness of God. Truly when we have done all, we are only unprofitable servants!
Verse 6 is a very interesting verse if for no other reason, than it is a place in Scripture where God Himself assumes the name of Jacob (most translations insert God of). This is an act of mercy, lest having seen the high requirements set before us we should despair. None of us have clean hands or a pure heart that we could approach unto God, but He is the God of Jacob. The God of the crooked one who is willing to submit himself to God’s processes in his life that result in his straightening. The same God who sets a high standard also is willing that all should attain that standard.

This psalm being written around the time the tabernacle of David was set up, it ends with a cry that the gates of Jerusalem would open to receive their King, so that all could come and seek Him. May God open the gates of our hearts to His presence that He may dwell among us also! Amen.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Breadth, Length, Depth and Height of Love

For a few weeks I had been thinking of Eph. 3:19 and specifically "How is it possible to know that which surpasses knowledge?" Then a couple of days ago, my friend Allan asked me what were my thoughts on verse 18 and the breadth, length, etc. This made me decide to write on these verses.

Eph 3:17-19 "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."

The first thing we see here concerning the love of God is that it requires Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith. God is love and it is His love that is shed abroad in our hearts starting with our new birth. As we partake of this love and are rooted and grounded in it, we are made able to comprehend it.

Next we need to know what is the breadth of this love. God's love extends to all of His creation and to man in a greater measure because we were created in His image. His love causes Him to give freely to all His creatures what they need (Psalm 145:16;Psalm 104:14-21; Matt. 5:44-45). The highest expression of this love was the gift of His only-begotten Son, who died to redeem man from the curse of sin. The breadth of this redeeming love is stretched as wide as the arms f Christ upon the cross and take in all who will shelter there.

The length of this love is actually from everlasting to everlasting. All who believe in Christ are loved in Christ by the Father and made partakers of that love. The love of the Father for the Son is before time and will continue long after time itself has passed away (John 17:20-26). It is this perfect love which is shared among the Trinity that Christ brought to earth and enabled us to receive. It is an eternal love and we are eternal recipients of it, as even in all eternity we will willingly return to the Father the love that He has poured into us. This love also bears with a life time of our struggles and shortcomings as we are prepared for glory.

The depth of this love is great. It brought the sinless Savior down from a holy heaven into a defiled world. He who knew no sin became sin for us. The abyss of love met the abyss of human depravity and filled the void. Not only did Christ come to earth and even sink down into the death of the cross, but (as my friend Allan reminded me) He descended into Hades and returned triumphant bringing souls in train. His love has gone as deep as depth is.

The height of this love follows closely on the depth. not only does it find us where we are, but it draws us up to Him. It causes us to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus and to be partakers of His divine nature. Eventually we will be there in heaven with Him having been transformed by this love. His love will have taken us to the highest place, near Him and with Him for all eternity.

To really understand this love is beyond our human capability. That is why it is said to surpass knowledge, but the more we realize its breadth and length ad depth and height we can manifest this love. As we do this we are filled with the essence of God Himself, which is love. When we deal with other people we need to remember this love. It is wide, they are included in its scope. It is long, both long-suffering and enduring. It is deep and will undergo much for those it loves. It is high and it will take all who exercise it up to it's fountain head in God above. That is the love that we should show others, praise God!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

In Him

The past couple of days I have been reading some of Hilary of Poitiers works. Since he lived in the midst of the Arian controversy, his writings have specific reference to the the divinity of Jesus Christ. While I wouldn't say that I learned a lot from reading his works because I am, of course, already a firm believer in the divinity of Christ, yet I did find it interesting to see how he draws from all the Scriptures starting in Genesis to show Christ's divinity. For example discussing the Angel of the Lord as a Christophony and using Scriptures like Gen. 19:14 to show the Son and Father working together in the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. Christ Himself contended with the Jews that if they had believed Moses they would have believed Him (John 5:46). All Scripture testifies to Christ and shows that He as the Son of God is the dividing line in history. Our eternal fate rests directly upon our attitude and response to Christ (Psalm 2:12 truly a greater than Solomon is here!)

With all this in mind I was thinking of the Phrase "in Him". This phrase shows the centrality of Christ, and the necessity of relationship to receive what is His and in Him. The Apostle Paul cried out to be found in Him clothed with His righteousness by faith. John tells us in Him was life. In Him we live and move and have our being. We were loved in Him and chosen in Him from before the foundation of the world. In the fulness of time God will gather all of heaven and (redeemed) earth in Him (Eph. 1:10). In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead (ie. the attributes that make God God). We are complete in Him. We are glorified in Him. This is by no means an exhaustive list of what is in Him.

The whole point of this is to show the centrality of Christ and our relationship to Him to everything in life. Everything we need in this life and the next is in Him, so are we "in Him." Are we trusting Him, believing Him, listening to His voice and obeying Him. It all depends on that. Unto Him be glory in the Church!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Seeing Him Who is Invisible

In Hebrews Chapter 11 we find the Faith Hall Of Fame so to speak of the Bible. Almost all the great heroes and heroines of faith receive at least a passing notice in this chapter, with some being only alluded to and others named with more details of their lives given. Part of what is said of Moses is as follows:

Heb 11:24-27 "By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he looked unto the recompense of reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible."

When we compare this little summary of this part of Moses' life with what we see in Exodus 2 and Acts 7:20-29 it appears that Moses had known that he was called to be a deliverer and in helping a fellow Israelite and killing the Egyptian, he thought it would be apparent to his people. It wasn't though and he had to flee and spend forty years in the wilderness (incidently if you follow Stephen's speech in Acts 7 it basically is showing the Jews how they have always resisted all the leaders God sent them from Moses right through until they even chose a murderer instead of Christ).

Moses must have been deeply discouraged, nothing he had attempted had worked out as he thought. He had abandoned all the earthly power and prestige that he had to be with the people of God and then they had rejected him. Yet he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.

When we have had disappointments and discouragements and wonder if God's promises will come to pass when it seems impossible we too must endure by seeing Him who is invisible. It is faith that enables us to see Him. It is faith that enables us to continue in spite of the difficulties that all believers will face to some degree.

Jeremiah wondered if God hadn't somehow tricked him in having him prophesy to people who had no interest in what he said (Jer. 20:7). However he still was faithful to speak God's word.

When we see Him who is invisible then there is really only one option, obedience. Yes, you can disobey and it would make life, at least temporarily, easier for you, but you would have disobeyed God and if you have a consciousness of Him it is hard to do that. Thus it is faith that causes us to carry on even when we don't like the options that the path gives us. The only options are either to go forward and trust God even though we do not see how things will work out, or quit, which would lead us out of immediate difficulties but bring us into far greater eternal ones.

This knowledge of the eternal realities is a seeing of Him who is invisible. It is only possible by faith and only continues as we exercise that faith and do not give up. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Praise God!