Sunday, September 27, 2009

Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven

The last day or two I have been reading in Zechariah and thinking a little bit about the visions of the four horses (Zech 6:1-8). I am still praying for light on the whole thing as I feel that maybe God wants to show me something on it, but having looked at a few commentaries and having read over the passage some I still don't know.

However, we are all given a pattern on how to pray by Christ, and in that prayer we are told to pray that His will would be done in the same way on earth as it is in heaven. This much I can see in Zech. 6, so I will start at looking at how Scripture shows us God's will is done in heaven so we can see what we are to be praying for.

God's will is done willingly and promptly. In Ezekiel 1, the four living creatures did not turn when they went, but moved straight ahead in immediate obedience to the promptings of the Lord. They also return to be instantly ready to serve again.

As we see in Zech. 6, God's will is accomplished with a desire to bring joy to Him and to remove anything which offends or disturbs Him. I do not know what specifically the chariots were sent to do, but clearly there was something in the north country that had disturbed God and they were sent and put it right (Zech. 6:8). We also should be zealous for the Lord's quiet and pleasure in all that we do.

Lastly God's will is fully accomplished in heaven, and so may it ever be in our lives. Amen.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Thoughts on Psalm 83:11-12

Psa 83:11-12 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, who said, "Let us take possession for ourselves of the pastures of God."

Asaph in remembering the past victories which God gave to Israel, specifically in the book of Judges, is crying out to God for a similar work against the current enemies of the Lord.

These four men had made themselves notable examples of both oppression of Israel in the days of Gideon and by their defeat also notable examples of divine retribution. Their desire in oppression was a possession of God’s land, specifically His pastures, houses or sheepfolds (the word has those three significations), all of which point to churches. These four men are types of spirits which attempt not just to destroy individual believers, but attempt to actually mar God’s inheritance by taking over churches.

Their names are significant, starting from the last to the first we see a causation of decline in churches.
Zalmunna means protection is denied. It is impossible for God’s enemies to gain even temporary possession of God’s houses unless He has removed His hand of protection from them. As the love of God’s people towards Him cools and they no longer serve Him with joy and gladness His protection is withdrawn (Rev. 2:4, Deut. 28:47).
After a while of continuing in this condition God actively gives over His church to His enemies, this is the meaning of Zebah – sacrifice or victim. These are the princes, or chief causes of the desolation which follows, the withdrawal of protection and active giving over. The nobles are the actual enemies which now wreak havoc within the churches given over.
Zeeb – the wolf, is a type of false teachers and heretics. False teachers are ordained by God (Jude 1:4). I picture this in this way, God looks through His church and sees the hearts of all men, He then gives a call, “I need teachers of error to test my peoples love for the truth. Which of you would like to have popularity and money more than you would like the truth? You will have everything you desire, but no relationship with Me, and only eternal judgment on the other side.” The hearts of the teachers of error all put up their hands and say, “Pick me, pick me.” Admittedly the choice is not often that blatantly stated, but even if it were they would make the same choice.
What state are we in when it is possible for a church to have one of its members commit murder and then suicide and claim that he is still in heaven, but he lost all his rewards?!?

Lastly there is Oreb – the raven. An unclean, carrion bird known throughout antiquity for its eerie ability to detect sickly and dying animals by smell and to call to the other ravens, hence the sound of a raven became an omen of death. It also was known for attacking the eyes of its victims first (Prov. 30:17). It is truly a type of those unclean spirits which detecting weaknesses in men take them captive in all uncleanness, and using the eye as the main means of entry through lust, have deprived men of both spiritual and natural sight as in the case of Samson.

These enemies must be defeated, not only Oreb and Zeeb, but the ones who enabled their ravages - Zebah and Zalmunnah. The victories will be notable even as the Rock of Oreb was noteworthy as where he was slain and the winepress of Zeeb was known for his demise. There will be clearly distinguishable points where these battles were fought and overcome. Then God’s mature leaders, not youths, must earnestly seek for and deal with Zebah and Zalmunnah, and restore God’s protection to His people, and lead them to turn their hearts back to Him (Judges 8).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Upward Call

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Recently I have been thinking about the phrase the upward call, or as it is sometimes translated the high call, or upward invitation. This is the prize for which Paul was constantly running towards. What is this upward call?

First, it is a drawing of our desires toward the one who calls. As Song of Solomon says, “Draw me and we will run after you.” An invitation when it is received draws out a response from the one who receives it, whether favorable or not (ignoring an invitation is as sure a refusal as an emphatic “no”). The upward call is a continuous outpouring of the heart of God calling us higher and higher so that we can be closer and closer to Him. It can be to a higher level of ministry and revelation as it was with John in Rev. 4:1, where he is called up from one level of vision and prophecy unto a higher one. It can also be a call onward to know Christ in a new and deeper way through entering into His sufferings and joys.

Second, and very importantly, the upward call creates ability to fulfill it. When Christ walked on water, Peter seeing Him, said, “Lord, if it is You, tell me to come.” After the Lord’s call to come, he was able to do the impossible as long as his focus remained on the Lord. Christ’s upward call not only calls us onward, but it gives us the power to move. It is this upward call that enables us to change and be conformed to the image of Christ.

Our part is to respond to the upward call, to hear it and obey it. Like men walking in the dark being lead by a guide, hearing His voice and following. His call always leads to Himself! This is what Paul was constantly running in response to, what he was reaching for! The light of Christ shed abroad at that moment followed by obedience and awaiting further light. Those who follow hard in this life are privileged to do the same forever (Rev. 14:4). Praise God!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Spare Your People O Lord

The ELCA has officially decided now to allow homosexual clergy in their churches. It is good that the signers of the Augsburg confession are in heaven where there is no sorrow, otherwise doubtless their hearts would be broken. They were willing to risk earthly honors, political quiet, and even war for the sake of the Gospel and their descendants in America are not willing to bear with the disapproval of the world and its agenda.
That on its own is sad enough, but as this morning as I have been contemplating the state of the Church in general, I have had the realization that this will likely not be the last denomination to do this. Those of us who are not Lutherans look and say, “whew, I am glad I am not Lutheran.” Yet, I must wonder how much lower must the Church come before It awakes. We are like the Germans in Nazi Germany, who looked the other way when the Nazis persecuted the Jews, because they were not Jewish, then ignored what they did when they came for the Catholics, because they were not Catholic. At last there was no one left to turn to.
Let us awake and cry out to God.

Joel 2:27 - Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, "Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'"

It is a reproach to Christ when any church that has preached the Gospel in any measure is given over to rule by any open sinners of any variety. The people of God are His heritage, those that have His Name upon them. It is an exceedingly grievous thing when any of His sheep are under such leadership. Yet again Christ comes to His own and His own receive Him not. This is an often repeated scenario, repeated by nations, churches and individuals. We would crucify Christ again if it were possible, the cry goes out, “not this man, but Barabbas!” We would rather have a murderer or other notorious sinner in our midst than the very Son of God!

This is not the first time such a thing has happened. During the Arian controversy many, many churches were under men who denied the Deity of Christ in any real sense, and some who did not deny it themselves compromised for the sake of imperial favor. Many centuries later, during the heyday of the Puritans, men like Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, George Fox and many others had a hard time in their youth finding ministers who were sober in the pulpit, let alone able to lead others in the way of salvation. The Church has weathered both of these and other storms and this one shall also pass. However we must pray that God would spare His people, that He would not let the heathen rule over them. Perhaps if we turn to Him with our whole heart He will relent and not allow the Church to be plunged into further darkness.

Let us not be like Ephraim or Samson who sunk so low as to not realize their own decrepitude before it was too late to avoid a serious captivity (Hosea 7:9; Judges 16:20).

Spare Your people O Lord! Turn our hearts again toward You!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Practical Application Of Daniel 2:31-35

Dan 2:31-35 "You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

We know from the verses which follow that this refers to the kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome and revived Rome, but I would like to look at this from a different and personal perspective. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21). So how can we apply this personally?

First is the head of gold, our own bright ideas and plans for our lives. Our own creativity and mental capabilities. We all want to control our own destiny, but it is not in man to direct his way (he can choose a path, but the path takes him where it goes). God wants to destroy our plans and establish His far better ones in their place. Our thoughts are not His thoughts, and He desires us to surrender our thoughts to Him.

Second is the breast of silver, which compares to our affections (after all, the heart is there). Are our affections on the things of this world? If we love this world the Love of the Father is not in us. Our affections should be set on those things above, where Christ is.

Third is the middle and thighs of bronze, this speaks of motives (Hebrews viewed the kidneys as the source of motive, see Psalm 7:9). What are our motives for what we do? Even good deeds are evil if they proceed from corrupt motives. We should not seek the praise of man but of God. God desires to revolutionize our motives for the deeds we do.

The legs of iron could refer to our own stubborn way of doing things - an inflexibility and insistence on our own methods and traditions. God wants us to be willing to yield to His leading even when it contradicts our cherished traditions (but not His Word).

The feet of iron mixed with clay - these are our inconsistencies and good but short lived intentions. We try to serve God in our own strength and we fail. When God's Kingdom comes it destroys all confidence in our own ability and leaves us wholly dependent on Him (Phil. 3:3).

Christ personally comes to each of us and as we allow Him to work like the stone in the vision, He will demolish these Kingdoms in our life and establish His own in us. These things are blown away like chaff, because they have no real substance. His Kingdom will endure forever. It has substance, and when it fills us and replaces these other Kingdoms we too will have an enduring substance. Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.(Psalm 125:1). Praise God!

Second Week of Bible School

Today marks the end of our first week of Bible School. It has been a good week, we have had 27 students this term. I taught on Repentance. Tomorrow, Dad will start a study on the lives of David and Solomon, which has a lot of good lessons specifically for leaders. The third week I will teach on the Gospel of John, and the last week Dad will teach on the Second Coming of Christ.

Ordinarily we have our third term in October, but since my (one and only) sister is getting married in October in the States, we moved the term forward. Mom will be heading to the States in a week, then Dad will follow right after Bible School ends and I will complete the Exodus a few days before the wedding.

It is great to have our students back, and to see growth in their lives.