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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sameness

Sameness2.gifIn a world that is ever changing and in the midst of a people who clamour for change and in meeting the challenges of chaos and confusion that accompanies change the Scripture unashamedly declares in Psalms 102: 27 concerning God, "But thou art the same, . . . ."

The Bible is a treasure trove of comforting words but surely, at least for me, these five words "But thou art the same" serve as a beacon of hope and lighthouse of safety when we are tossed on a sea of uncertainty and change.

This timeless truth is expressed several times in Scripture.

Malachi 3:6 - For I am the LORD, I change not; . . . .
Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
James 1:17 - 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.

Our circumstances change he does not!
Our relationships change he does not!
Our health changes he does not!
Our fortunes change he does not!
Our plans change he does not!
Our minds change he does not!
Our families change he does not!
Our friends change he does not!

He is the same!  For him to change would mean one of two things.  1.  He was getting better which would call into question his divinity.  2.  He was getting worse which would call into question his divinity.  As God he is perfect in all his ways.  He can not get better!  He cannot get worse!  He is the same!

Our views of him may change but he is the same.
The way we relate to him may change but he is the same.
Our understanding of him may change but he is the same.
Our fellowship with him may change but he is the same.


To hear some people talk you would think God is as morally confused and uncertain and undecided and unsure and unsettled and unstable as the passing fashions of this world.  All these things may be true of us but let us be careful not to impute our frailty upon God.  He is the same!

God is not morally confused, or uncertain or undecided or unsure or unsettled or unstable.  He is the same!

Quite frankly I love to have it so.  Being the same He is faithful and trustworthy.  If there is uncertainty it is in my own mind.  If there is confusion it is with my own understanding.

In a world where "change" is promoted as the test of intellectual acumen and true advanced thought it would do us well to remember the Bible says, "But thou art the same".

Actually I am not against all change.  We are not God and thus need to change.  The change that we need is a return to the old paths and to walk in the ways of our Fathers.  The change that is most proposed today is in the direction of accommodation of the flesh.  A change that mirrors the world instead of reflects Jesus and holiness is change in the wrong direction.

It is important that if we are going to change that it be in the direction of him of whom it is said, "Thou art the same".

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Revelation Of JesusChrist


Teh Revelation of Jesus Christ



A few weeks ago we began an expositional study through the book of Revelation.  I am as excited about this study as I have been any that I can remember.  There is excitement in moving in a new direction.  There is excitement in having an opportunity to restudy a book in the context of a greater foundation of knowledge.  Most of all there is excitement about the new perspective I am bringing to Revelation.  It is a perspective that I gained by reading through the book five or six times over about a month and a half (once out loud) and listening to it once on CD.

There seems to be a tendency to read the first line of the book (The revelation of Jesus Christ) and then immediately forget that premise.  While there is undoubtedly a lot going on in Revelation the purpose of the book is to unveil Jesus Christ.  In fact chapter one begins the process of doing just that.

Christ is the central figure.  Chapter one really introduces us to the focus and point of the Revelation.  Our tendency is to look at Revelation and see prophecy, to think about the content of the book in the context of its human impact.  During my study I hope to change that.  Such a view is, at its root, at odds with the book's stated purpose.  I do not mean to completely dismiss the human impact of the events that unfold in the pages before us but I do intend to shift the focus.  It is not so much about man as it is about Him.  It is not so much about man and his suffering in the midst of tribulation as it is about Christ and the unveiling of his glory, for He is worthy!

No sooner do we get past the personal messages to the seven churches of Asia before we are ushered into a heavenly scene that defies the imagination.  The song writer got it wrong.  You cannot only imagine!  Our imaginations are fallen and depraved!  The glories of that place and the one who rules there is beyond imagination.  Revelation is about his worthiness.

Consider the emphasis of chapters four and five:

Revelation 4:11 - Thou art worthy O, Lord
Revelation 5:2 - Who is worthy to open the book
Revelation 5:4 - No man was found worthy
Revelation 5:9 - Thou (the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world) are worthy to take the book and open the seals thereof
Revelation 5:12 - Worth is the Lamb that was slain

While we certainly see great suffering over the course of this book, we should not miss the great glory, the unveiled glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Chapter one point us in that direction.  Chapter one does not introduce us to the anti-christ, the different beasts that appear, the great whore, the false prophet, the two witnesses, the 144,000, tribulation saints, or angels.  Chapter one of the Revelation of Jesus Christ introduces us to a glorified Christ.

Throughout the text we should keep our eyes on him.  If we will all the unfolding drama will simply be on the periphery of our vision and will serve to glorify He who is worthy.

It is in Revelation where we see Jesus like we have never seen him before.

In the Old Testament we see him concealed in the folds of prophecy and we anticipate him.

During the course of the gospels we see him as one of us, we see what we were intended to be and we admire him.

At the end of the gospels we see him dying for us and being resurrected and we love him.

In the Acts we see him as the message for the world, and we preach him

In the epistles we see him explained and we study him.

But.....in Revelation we see him revealed in glory and we worship Him!

Maybe this is why we are told in Revelation 1:3 - Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Enslaving Our Own Snare

Judges 2:1-5 almost seems to be ill placed on the hills of chapter one.  Judges one recounts for us the efforts of the Jewish people against the Canaanites after the death of Joshua.  It is, what appears at first glance, a remarkable record of conquest.  But the Lord's rebuke at the very beginning of chapter two forces us to go back and reevaluate what we have read.

It is a chapter that opens with the tribes of Judah and Simeon slaying 10,000 Canaanites.  It is a chapter that ends with Amorites forcing the tribe of Dan into the mountains.  A chapter that begins with the Israelites dictating to the Canaanites and ends with the Canaanites dictating to the Israelites reveals a problem somewhere.

There is a pattern that emerges as we follow the events a little more closely.

Judges 1:19 - Judah could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley.  (says who)
Judges 1:21 - The tribe of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem
Judges 1:27 - Manasseh did not drive out the Canaanites but allowed them to dwell in the land
Judges 1:29 - Ephraim did not drive out the Canaanites but allowed them to dwell among them
Judges 1:30 - Zebulun did not drive out the Canaanites but allowed them to dwell among them
Judges 1:31,32 - Asher did not drive out the Canaanites but dwelt among the Canaanites
Judges 1:33 - Naphtali did not drive out the Canaanites but dwelt among the Canaanites
Judges 1:34 - The Amorites (Canaanites) forced the tribe of Dan into the mountains and would not allow them to come down to the valley.

Judah, could not drive the Canaanites out.  Benjamin did not drive the Canaanites out.  Manasseh, Ephraim, and Zebulun did not drive them out but let the Canaanites dwell among them.  Asher and Naphtali did not drive out the Canaanites but dwelt among the Canaanites.  The Danites were driven into the mountains by the Canaanites.

We read of each of these tribes putting the Canaanites under tribute, that is they enslaved them.  A great arrangement, right?  The Israelites were in possession of most of the land, they were prospering at the expense of the Canaanites.  This was a good idea.  Wrong!  It was a bad idea.  Again Judges 2:1-5 make this clear.  God was not happy with their foreign policy.

He reminds them in Judges 2:1  of his faithfulness to them.

He reminds them in the first part of Judges 2:2 of his instruction to them.

He calls them to account in the last part of verse 2.

"Ye have not obeyed my voice."  They were to drive out the inhabitants of the land, in fact they were to have no pity upon them.

"Why have ye done this."  It is as though God is saying to them after all I have done FOR you why are you doing this TO me?

No doubt their disobedience had seemed a small thing to them.  Disobedience to God is never a small thing.  In their seemingly small disobedience they had sown the seeds that would seal the fate of their theocracy.

Even a small step down is still decline.
Even a small departure is still departure.
Even a small apostasy is still apostasy.
Even a little disobedience is still disobedience.
Even a little backsliding is still backsliding.

What was the response of the people?

Judges 2:4 - They wept.  Were they weeping because of their disobedience?  Were they weeping because of the consequences of their disobediecne?  One is a godly sorrow that works repentance.  The other is a worldly sorrow that laments getting caught.

Judges 2:5 - They sacrificed.  Sacrifice is a good thing, but it does not take the place of obedience.  "To obey is better than to sacrifice."

Instead of weeping and sacrificing they should have been on the field of battle driving out the Canaanites!

Of course the judgment for their disobedience according to Judges 2:3 is that the Canaanites would be as thorns in their sides and their gods would be a snare unto them.

So they found themselves in the awkward position of having enslaved their own snare!

Have you, through some small disobedience, enslaved your own snare?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Heritage Of Herod

The following is from a sermon preached by C. H. Spurgeon about Herod entitled, That Fox.

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"I conclude by showing you very sorrowful what became of Herod.  With all his good points he ended most wretchedly.  First, he slew the preacher whom he once respected.  It was he who did it, though the executioner was the instrument.  He said, "Go and fetch John the Baptist's head in a charger."  So it has happened with many hopeful hearers; they have become slanderers and persecutors of the very preachers before whom they once trembled, and far as they could they have taken off their heads.  After a time men dislike being rebuked, and they proceed in their dislike till they scoff at the things they once reverenced, and make the name of Christ a football for their jests.  Beware!  I pray you, beware! for the way of sin is downhill.  Herod feared John, and yet he beheaded him.  A person may be evangelical  . . . and yet, if he is placed under certain conditions, he may become a hater and a persecutor of the truth he once avowed."