Becoming What We Are

Dear Ones:

Throughout history, and even up to our present time, folks are looking for their identity.  The thought is that in finding out the identity, this will ensue meaning and purpose.  One will be more secure “in one’s skin,” because the identity in one sense is the anchor of the soul.  But to find that identity, it is not enough to go back a generation or two in our family tree.  If the answer to our existence, and our identity in that existence is to be found, it is imperative that we go back to the beginning, the very beginning.  For there we shall find out what the Creator gave  us as an identity and purpose.

In Genesis 1:27, we read:  “So God created man in His image, in the image of God created He him, male and female created them.”  Immediately we discover that our “identity” began by the design, purpose, and intervention of God.  Our identity is Divine in its origin and its effect.  Secondly, we discover that the design is specific, and caters to the very nature, disposition, and will of God.  “God created man IN HIS IMAGE…” is one of the most extraordinary, powerful statements in Scripture, for in that phrase is revealed what we were created TO BE.  Paul brings this before us so very clearly in his letter to the Romans:  “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate TO BE CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON…” (8:29)  When Adam and Eve sinned, man, in great measure, ceased to BE in the image of God…for though the “likeness” remained to some extent, yet it was a Life-less shell, hence the words to Nicodemus:  “…Ye must be BORN again,”  born of the Spirit, to live BY the Spirit.  For it will only be as man, born again and living by the faith of Christ, that the Spirit will reveal increasingly the indwelling Life and nature of God in the heart.  At that point one will again begin to rise to the measure of the calling, and identity, for which we were created.

So, today…let us grasp what we ARE, created in the image of God, to BE like Him.  Is this not what Jesus meant when He said, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect?”  That which immediately faces us, being on this side Adam’s sin and curse, is that we have but one MEANS, one WAY to become what we are, and that is by the cleansing by the blood of Christ (today, and from all sin…), and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, as we trust wholly in Him.  What a magnificent calling, vision, identity, and purpose….God intervened sovereignly in the beginning to create man once.  Now He intervenes in our lives, not only to make of us a “new creation” in Christ, but to form Christ in us by the Spirit as we walk by Him.  “Changed from glory to glory….”  God is determined to do this in us, to enable us to become what we truly ARE.   So, let us trust Him for it, believing Him for the full outworking of His purposes and will in our lives.

Love, Dad

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The Sword In The Soul

Dear Ones:

The story of the meeting between Simeon, “…a just and devout” man living in Jerusalem, and Mary the mother of Jesus, is a panoramic picture of the grace and mercy of God.  It was when the parents of Jesus brought the baby Jesus into the temple, to present him to the Lord, that the Spirit of God revealed to Simeon that this baby would become, “…Thy salvation, ….a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:31, 32)  Now, before we go further, let’s remember briefly the events that have led up to this moment.

Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary, has miraculously given birth to a child, who is the precursor of Christ, the very herald of His coming.  Mary has given birth to the Lord Jesus, a perfect child in every way, even, “…a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)  Now, this child Jesus could not have been to Mary a greater treasure, responsibility, or privilege to have.  The weight of His value cannot be measured.  And the affection of a mother’s heart cannot be greater, than for that child.  So Joseph and Mary bring the baby to Jerusalem to be circumcised the 8th day. They subsequently enter the temple, and there they are found by Simeon, who, being led by the Spirit of God, speaks to them concerning the child.  What he has to say is very significant, as it pertains to rise and fall of peoples and nations.   But then, he addresses the heart of Mary by saying, “…Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:35)  Why such a declaration?  The answer is very simple.  To such a one who loves most, the pain of loss is greatest.  I dare to say that no mother ever loved a child as did Mary.  And because of this, no mother ever knew such loss as she did.

This is not the end of the story…for she will learn, as will the disciples, that Jesus will rise from the dead.  He WILL come again.  “Sorrow will endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning.”  And so it is…those who love most often suffer loss to the greatest extent.  But, hallelujah for the hope that we have in Christ.  The sword may enter into the soul at present, but indeed, “…joy cometh in the morning.”  Let us never forget it.

Love, Dad

 

Never Forget

Dear Ones:

It is easy to forget that which is essential.  When the Lord Jesus gave to John the  Book of the Revelation, there was one letter that was addressed to the church at Ephesus, a church of impeccable doctrine and zeal.  However, one thing was missing.  The church had “…left its first love.” (Rev. 2:4)  How could such a body of believers, who were so doctrinally sound, and filled with zeal, miss the most important thing?  And, we must ask, “How do you know that it was the most important thing?”  Simply, by the response of the Lord to the situation:  “Repent, and do THE FIRST WORKS; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent.” (v.5)  What is this “first love?”  It is simply the “first” affection, and consequent devotion.  It is that primary, and personal love and devotion to Him who loved us…first.

We all know the story of Daniel and the lion’s den.  What we often fail to grasp is the resolute determination of Daniel to not cease praying three times a day, giving thanks to God and worshiping Him.  Here is a man at the pinnacle of his career, mature, mellow, and master of his responsibilities before King Darius.  And yet, he had grasped well before this moment that the “first thing,”  the most important thing, was the cultivation of his personal, profound love and devotion to Christ, and this by prayer, and the study of His word.  He would not be moved from this, even for the sparing of his own life, or his future.  Why?  He had learned that communion with God was the greatest privilege and responsibility that we have…and it is the highest blessing.

Even Jesus, in the midst of his very demanding schedule during His ministry, would seek the solitude of the mountains, often rising up a great while before day.  Why?  To have fellowship with His Father, to ever cultivate that reality of his presence, power, and love.

Do we trust the Spirit of God to awaken us morning by morning, first of all, to seek the aloneness of fellowship with Christ in prayer and in His word?  God speaks through His word to the heart, and to the mind.  It is in that place of certain good, where we are alone with God, that He reveals Himself in a very real way to the heart.  What we are in that place, tending to the first thing of “first love,” will determine what we will be out in the world.  It was said of Stephen, the first martyr, “…all that sat in the council looking steadfastly on him saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” (Acts. 6:15)  Where do you think such a “face” came from?  Simply, from beholding the Lord Jesus in His word, and in prayer.  Stephen was simply reflecting the great reality of the invisible Christ, with whom he had fellowship.

May we never forget to give our utmost attention to developing our fellowship, and love for Christ by the quiet meditation of His word, and by prayer and worship.  If we tend to the first, most important thing, then all else will be clear.

Love, Dad

Difficult Times

Dear Ones:

In the shifting sands of culture and history, finding the “Solid Rock” on which to stand, and rest all of our weight, is a very difficult thing to do.  In one of Paul’s last letters, the second letter to his “son” Timothy,  he writes that in the last days, “…perilous (difficult, hard…) times will come.”  (2 Tim. 3:1) Why?  Because the assault on everything that we know about God, Christ, and the truth, will intensify.  In the 12th chapter of the book of Daniel, the Lord revealed to Daniel the following:  “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: may shall run to and fro, and KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE INCREASED.” (v.4)  Never have the “distractions” of knowledge been so intensely imposed upon mankind.  Though true knowledge is a welcome thing, the flood of the truth mixed with that which is false is so condensed, that at times it is very difficult to “see the forest for the trees.”  The truth, and the knowledge of the living Truth, is hidden under the leaves of our imaginations and suppositions, based on when we see and hear, instead of upon the Word of God.  To neglect the Word of God, at the expense of an overabundance of knowledge is a very “difficult,” perilous danger to be in, for in doing so, we deprive ourselves of the basis of faith.  The objective Word of God is the basis for faith in the subjective (but Truthful) Living Word…the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 24, in speaking of the days leading up to the return of the Lord Jesus, the Lord says concerning “…wars and rumors of wars, ” “…see that ye be not troubled.” (v.6)  Why does He say this?  For two reasons, the first of which is that we cannot change history…wars will come.  The second reason is that He would not have us distracted and preoccupied with that which would absorb our attention, which would have the result of turning us aside from that which is essential, our purpose of loving Him, and walking with Him, so that He can operate in and through us His purposes and will.

The Lord Jesus, in speaking of the parable of the sower, specifically referencing the “…seed received among the thorns,” (Matt. 13:22), said that this “one,” or “person,” is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”  Here we have again emphasized that there are those things which can render us unfruitful, the “cares of the world (turned in on ourselves, overwhelmed with the need without and within),” and the “deceitfulness of riches (…because we are deceived into trusting in them and not God..).  Whether in times of war, peace, prosperity, great knowledge, the great essential is this…KNOW THE OBJECTIVE WORD OF GOD…HOLD TO IT FIRMLY; DO NOT LET IT GO.  It is that means by which we can put our foot down upon the Rock of All Ages, rest all the weight of our existence upon Him, and find the eternal security, and peace of God that passes understanding.

Love, Dad

The Way We Should Go

Dear Ones:

How do we know the “way in which we should go, ” from God’s perspective?  How can we be sure?  What is the seal, and confirmation upon that choice of direction?  How do we know that God is in it?  If there is one thing that we all wrestle with, it is this issue of “direction,” and “assurance.  To start to answer this question, let us be assured of this truth:  God is far more concerned, and committed, to us understanding the way than we could ever be.  This is simply because He is perfect love, and can desire nothing less.

The whole subject begins with the consideration of a “rudder.”  The rudder is that mechanism on a boat which determines the course of the vessel.  In essence, the rudder guides.  The “rudder” in our case is the Lord Himself.  The total reliance upon our Everlasting and Ever-loving “Rudder” must be paramount.  After all, He is sovereign, and all-mighty, for whom NOTHING is impossible or too hard.  The question needs to be asked:  Can we be sure that He will guide us?  The problem with guidance is never from God, but from us.  He has declared through the Apostle Paul, “Faithful is He who calls you who also WILL do it.” (1 Thess. 5:24)  We are the ones who are our greatest problem…for we often get in the way of the Lord, and are an obstacle to Him to lead us.  With our preferences and prejudices, we are so easily led astray to our “own way,” leaning unto our own understanding.  Jesus once said, “If any man is WILLING, he shall know…” (Jn. 7:17)  If God is to BE our rudder, not in just name only, then our wills need to be submitted to Him.  What was it that David Livingstone wrote?  “Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me…”  I once knew a man who, during World War II, was in the hold of a ship which was being fired upon by the enemy.  He told the Lord that if He got him out alive, and gave him four sons, he would serve Him all of his life.  Well, the Lord saved him out of that dangerous situation, and gave him four sons…no daughters.  The man served the Lord all of his life.  Here is commitment, and a willingness to follow…and the proof of God’s faithfulness.

In Psalm 32:8, the Lord promises to instruct us and to teach us in the way we should go.  When we seek Him, His kingdom and the doing of His will, we can be assured that as we trust Him to speak to us through His word, and direct the circumstances of our lives, He will do exactly what He says.  In the process of being “guided” David writes:  “I (God) will guide thee with Mine eye.”  This is wonderful.  His guidance is very personal and real.  As His eye is upon the sparrow, so He is looking upon us.

Lastly, how do we know that He is guiding?  The Spirit of God has been given to us, not only to teach and to guide, but to witness to our spirits, to convince us, to persuade us of the will of God.  The great “seal” of His direction is the peace of God, the very peace of Christ.  If we are willing to see, to know His will, and to follow Him whenever, however, to trust Him for what ever, He is willing to convince us of His open door and direction, confirming all with the gift of His peace….a peace not of this world, but of Him.

Guidance is personal, between God and the individual heart.  And yet, because of the Spirit of God that dwells in believers, He confirms it to other believer’s hearts also who are walking with the Lord.  Herein is another confirmation. “For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you.” (Is. 52:13)

Love, Dad

Divine Forgiveness

Dear Ones:

What makes forgiving someone so difficult, especially if the offense is so very egregeous?  And what is the difference between “societal” forgiveness, and that which is of God?  There are earth-shattering repercussions in the life, and in society, when one truly understands the answers to these questions.  It becomes a question of slavery to sin and men, and the liberty of the soul by the grace of God.

Let us begin with the issue of sin, for this is the cause of the need of forgiveness.  Sin is an act, and an attitude of rejection, rebellion, refusing of that which is of God, of heaven.  Every time one sins in word or in deed, that person becomes a debtor to God for the offense.  And the debt must be paid to the Creator.  Forgiveness means not only the forgetting of that debt owed, but that the payment for the debt has been applied.  This is the basis of the forgiving of the debt.  The repercussions of the payment of the debt, the forgetting of the debt, the “wiping clean of the slate,” is that the soul knows freedom from the weight of guilt, a bad conscience towards God, and the consequent capacity to forgive oneself, accepting and embracing the reality of God’s authoritative decree, “….He is faithful and just to forgive us, and to cleanse us from ALL (…and thus, thoroughly) sin.”  Only God can cleanse the heart, and restore to a right attitude of mind and heart towards God and men.

Societal forgiveness stands in stark contrast to that which is Divine.  It is never complete, never fully resolved, never cleansing the heart and mind.  It is only a band-aid patch on a problem, and need, that can only be resolved by an act of God, by His Spirit.  How can a debt owed for doing wrong to another individual ever be paid, from a human standpoint, and according to the capacities of men?  Not possible.  When Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, in the garden, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Jesus picked up the ear and put it back on the head of Malchus, and healed him.  Only God can do this.  And so it is with true forgiveness.  Society can never accomplish the work of God.

Love, Dad

 

 

In Great Company

Dear Ones:

Scripture teaches us that we become like the company we keep.  So, we might want  to ask ourselves, “Whose company DO I keep?”  Of course, that which is first and primary is the Lord’s company, living in the quietness of His presence, seeking to derive all from Him, living a life of communion with Him.  But what of the vast company of people around us, or who have gone before us?  Are we inspired, strengthened, encouraged?  Does such company make us more faithful, effective servants and witnesses for Christ?  Does such company inspire us to believe, and overcome all adversity to serve, and live for Christ?

In Hebrews 10, we discover that God is calling us “…to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus.”(v.19)  Our highest calling is to fellowship with the eternal God, and that place of communion is in the “holiest of all,” that place in the Old Testament, where God met man.  More specifically, we are called to “…draw near (to God), with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (v.22)  What is Scripture saying here?  Our place, the true and highest place of well-being and eternal blessing is in the “near” presence of God.  It is as the blood of Jesus cleanses our hearts that we are able to have a good conscience before God, and know the cleansing from all that is of sin….clean hands and a pure heart.  What does this have to do with the company we keep?

In Hebrews 11, we see that here is a list of those who have gone before us, who, in essence, drew near, and lived in the presence of God.  Did they do it perfectly?  No…although Enoch seems to have come close.  What bound all of these individuals together was faith, a faith that was born out of a knowledge of God, and a commitment to Him.  They ALL proved Him individually.  They ALL overcame, howbeit sometimes through great trial(s).  The company of these individuals is wonderfully encouraging, for they proved that it is possible to glorify God, follow Christ, and KNOW that God is a “REWARDER” of them that diligently seek Him.  He IS  a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46).  He is faithful who has promised.  And these individuals have shown us the way…not only in our approach to God, but in how we are to run the race.

Since we too are in such a great company of conquerors, we too are to “…lay aside every weight (“…casting ALL of your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”) , and the sin which doth so easily beset us (…for we have died to sin…), and let us RUN with patience (endurance) the race that is SET before us.” (Heb. 12:1)  “…Looking unto Jesus…” (v.2)  The testimony, the conditions of running, the race, and the Object of faith….may we live this day in the company of those who have gone before, with eyes upon Christ…run this race with joy this day.

Love, Dad

Discerning The Invisible

Dear Ones:

Isaiah wrote his book over almost three thousand years ago…and yet, the timeless truths of God, and His dealings with us, reverberates with reality and power through history until it arrives to us TODAY.  One of the great truths in Isaiah has to do with the knowledge of the invisible, and the consequent actions by God.  There are very important lessons and applications to our lives that are derived from this subject.

In Isaiah 11:2-5, the author is writing about the Lord Jesus, “the Branch.”  And in the discourse he deals with this declaration:  “… The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him.”   This reality is so very important, for in His humanity the Lord Jesus reveals to us how this applies to us concerning the same Spirit of the Lord.  He goes on to write, ” …the Spirit of wisdom and understanding in the fear of the Lord.”  Jesus, to a great extent, in taking human flesh, did limit Himself absolutely to the resources of the God the Holy Spirit, and this for all things.  He was showing US the way, His way of living…and discerning.  This Spirit of counsel, might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord will also be the one who gives to the Branch “quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.”  In other words, His presence will reveal Himself quickly in whatever circumstance that may arise, IF He is trusted in.  Now, practically this works out like this:  “….and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears., but with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.”  What do we see here?  Jesus, in His humanity, was shut up to the Spirit of God to receive the discernment of the invisible, the reality of what was in the heart of man.  He would not, as we read in Proverbs 3:5-6, “…lean to his own understanding.”  And though He would use fully every faculty of His being, He would ultimately trust only in the discernment of the Holy Spirit.  He would perfectly apply what Solomon writes:  “…In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy steps.” (v.6)

How shall we deal rightly with true discernment, unless we trust in the Spirit of God, and believe in Him to give us the wisdom and understanding that we need in order to discern that which is right and just in the eyes of God?  Jeremiah writes:  “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is NOT in man who walketh to direct his steps.” (Jer. 10:23)  Why is this true?  Because of spiritual and physical limitations.  On the one hand, sin clouds our judgement, and on the other, physical limitations hinder us from seeing the invisible, and understanding what is the truth.

So, today, as always, God instructs us:  “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.”  (Ps. 37:5)  The Spirit of God has been given to us to BE our teacher, and the One who reveals to us (always in accordance with the Word of God), the way in which we should go.  We can count absolutely upon it.  Let us believe, and live practically…by the Spirit.

Love, Dad

The Great Divide

Dear Ones:

The majority of topics that we discuss with one another have varying levels of importance attached to them.  But there are some, the value and significance of which, cannot and must not be ignored.  There are two instances in the Old Testament when the day came when a decision of monumental significance was put before those who heard the discourse.  In essence, it would be the moment of the great divide, for there would only be two camps…no more.

The first of these instances came to pass when Joshua was old, and “stricken in age.” (Josh. 23:1)  God had given the land of Canaan to Israel.  It was indeed a “land of promise.”  And then comes Joshua’s admonition:  “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve the Lord.  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you THIS DAY whom ye will serve….but as for me and my house, we WILL serve the Lord.” (24:14-15)  It is apparent that there is NO middle ground here.  The dye must be cast, the decision must be made, the position must be taken…and this for all time and eternity.  It is apparent also that this choice is one that needs to be made TODAY…tomorrow may never come.

When Israel had lived in the land many years, and turned away from God, many years after Joshua had uttered those words,  especially under the reign of Ahab and Jezebel, God was seeking to save the nation.  So, He raised up Elijah to bring the people face to face with a decision, and the decision was this:  “How long halt ye between two opinions?  If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)  Again, there is not a third avenue or choice.  It is either to commit to the Eternal God, or to the degradation of a merciless and wicked god, Baal.  It must be noted that this god Baal required the living sacrifice of children, and promoted sexual perversion to the extreme.  You might say, “…Well I don’t agree with that, and I do not worship and serve Baal.”  It must be understood at this point that, the refusal to “serve the Lord” is to choose to serve another god by default, and this a god of man’s imagination.  We are worshipful creatures of things or people, and our existence is determined to a great extent, not only by the company we keep, but by the mentality of the age in which we live.  In both Joshua’s admonition, and Elijah’s challenge, the issue is to choose the God of the Bible or the god(s) of this world.

Jesus would put it like this:  “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” (Matt. 7:13)  And finally, in John’s gospel, Christ declared:  “I am the way, the truth, and the life: NO MAN cometh unto the Father BUT BY ME.” (14:6)  The question of the great divide is simple, “If Christ be God, the serve Him…”  If not, then serve the gods of this world.  But be very sure that there is no middle ground here, for though we might serve God with many faults, there is a definite choice that is made.  And it is an eternal one.

Love, Dad

An Answer Of Peace

Dear Ones:

Objective truth should lead to an experiential fellowship with God.  When Jesus said, “….Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you…” (Jn. 14:27)  He brings us face to face with the objective truth that Jesus IS our peace, not only in that He has secured for us “peace WITH God,” but also that He IS experientially our peace, the very essence and experience of peace.  How does this work out in our lives?

First of all, since He is the God of peace (heavenly, and Divine), and since it is a peace that cannot be “understood,” nor of this world, (Phil. 4:7), as it “…passeth all understanding,” let us grasp that we are called to KNOW this peace from God as a gift from God.  Paul writes of the Spirit, that the fruit of His life (Christ’s life…) within us, is “…love, joy, and PEACE.”  God communicates His peace by the Spirit of God.  Secondly, let us understand that His peace is given to “…keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (v.7)  The peace of God plays an active role in our lives to garrison our hearts and minds, leading us in the way in which we should go.  Paul’s admonition to the Colossians is so instructive here:  “Let the peace of God RULE in your hearts…(3:15).  The application is simple. If you do not have peace, stop and find out why.  The peace of God is like an umpire in a baseball game.  He decides the nature of the pitch.  If we do not have the Lord’s peace about something, we do not engage in it.  If we have it, then we proceed with confidence.

It is very interesting that Joseph, when he was standing before Pharoah, would tell him that with respect to the interpretation of his dreams, he would know the answer was from God because he would receive “an answer of peace.”  That peace would be in stark contrast to not only the dreams themselves, but with respect to their interpretation, a real subject of concern.  And yet, the dominant factor in realizing the interpretation was of God would be His peace.  It is the same for us.

So, today, let us live IN His peace, and BY His peace.  He is the God of peace, and when we are walking in harmony with Him, we will KNOW His peace, be led and guarded by that peace.  It is then that we walk in full assurance of faith.

Love, Dad