Saturday, February 27, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
- Serving God is more about God than us. God saves us, and God will use us. God will incorporate our loving and feeble service for Him in His achievements. But God is not dependent upon humanity in any sense in order to get His plan completed. It is always about Him, not us.
- God works in us, through us, around us, in spite of us, and beyond us. God is sovereignly working His plan and will through all sorts of people and circumstances. He is not limited to working simply through His people. Read the Bible (particularly the biblical narratives) and you will discover this. God uses sinners and saints, God uses pagans and Christians, God uses good things, and God uses bad things. In fact, the doctrine of Providence teaches us that all things are used by God to bring about good for His people and kingdom.
- God is particularly pleased to work through the weaknesses of His servants. The reason God did not take Moses' speech impediment away (We are not sure what kind of speech problem Moses had. He may have simply been a really bad speaker.) is that God wanted to use Moses the way he was. God made Moses, and Moses was created to do what God wanted him to do. God builds us in such a way that His glory will shine through us, even our weaknesses and frailties. Paul learned this in 2 Corinthians 12. He had a "thorn in the flesh", and three times he asked God to take the thorn away. God refused for two reasons: 1) It was not God's will to take the thorn away, because 2) God had plans to use Paul's thorn in order to demonstrate His glorious power in Paul's life.
- Recognized human difficulties and problems humbles man and gives God the glory. If we are to learn anything from the heart of God in the redemptive work He achieved throughout history culminating in the incarnation of Christ, it is this - people need to be reclaimed to the recognition of the greatness of God, and they must be brought back to the true worship of God. Sin has robbed man of his perception of who God is and the genuine worship of God. Jesus said in John 4 that God wants true worshipers. Everything God does in redemption in history humbles man and glorifies Himself. This is a truism that must be remembered. The central question in the Egyptian bondage of Israel and their deliverance is this - who has the power, Pharaoh or God? God took humble people and demonstrated His sovereign greatness over the greatest nation in the world at that time. It is always about God and His glory!
Monday, February 22, 2010
- Life is not about instant solutions and immediate answers. This is very difficult for modern people to understand and accept. Our technology creates a false understanding of life. People who live in a context of immediate information, instant communication, and real-time involvement in current events, have a difficult time understanding real reality. In real reality one must wait, one must persevere, one must accept challenges and disappointments.
- This situation exposed sin for what it really is. The Egyptians kept getting worse and worse. They imposed more restrictions and caused greater difficulties for the Israelites. God was demonstrating to the Israelites the true nature of a pagan society and sinful action. Later, in the wilderness, some of the Israelites would clamor to go back to Egypt. This is remarkable in light of the great suffering they endured there.
- The circumstances allowed the people to see who God really is. I think one of the keys to the interpretation of this whole history of deliverance in Egypt is the question Pharaoh poses when Moses seeks for permission for the people to leave. Pharaoh asks, "Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?" This is the central crux of the matter - Who is the Lord? Pharaoh was under the delusion that he was in charge, that he had power. Pharaoh did not know that God was the One who is always in charge; He is the One who has all power. Both Egyptians and Israelites learned one great lesson in all of this - The Lord, He is God!
- God demonstrated His love for His people. The pain and suffering of the people of God is the context in which God is able to better show His love for them. Another way to think of this is - in suffering God's people are better able to understand and perceive the love of God for them. Trouble brings about situations whereby God's mercy and delivering power are brought more into focus.
- God foreshadowed the deliverance of sinners through salvation in Christ. It is thought by many Bible scholars that the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage is the central motif of salvation in the Bible. This foreshadows the salvation of sinners through Jesus Christ our Lord. I agree with this hermeneutical assessment. The reason this story is included in the Bible is to become a permanent and prominent expression of salvation, which will later be more fully demonstrated in Christ.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Today I want to talk to you about death, death for the Christian. I want us to think about death, not as a defeat or tragedy, but as victory and means by which the Christian goes into the glories of heaven. Let's look at John 14:1-6 and think about the Christian's victory through death.
1. Death cannot defeat the Christian because it did not defeat Christ.
Jesus is soon to face the cross in John 14, but there is no anxiety, no worry, no panic, and no fear. In fact, Jesus doesn’t even speak of the cross. Rather, He speaks of what He is going to do after the cross, after He dies. He is implying that death is not the end of Him, and He is implying that death will not defeat Him. He speaks of what He will do after He goes back to heaven, therefore He is affirming His resurrection and ascension – He is affirming His post-death victory and life.
2. The Christian possesses great joy as he contemplates death.
There is a sense in which the Christian feels the violent contradiction and violation of life in the essence and experience of death. Death is not part of God’s original plan for life. The Christian knows it and feels it. But at the same time, the believer knows, as he contemplates death, that death will not result in the cessation of existence, the termination of life, or the displacement of self. The Apostle Paul mocked death when he said, “Death, where is your victory; Death where is your sting?” Hebrews 12 says that Jesus endured the cross despising the shame, because of the joy set before Him on the cross. The Christian’s joy in death is to know that death is God’s instrumental means by which the believer enters into the greatest joy, peace, love, comfort, and beauty. The believer in death goes home to God and God’s love and eternal provision for him in Christ.
3. The Christian experiences transcendent glory beyond death.
It is impossible for us to fully contemplate how wonderful heaven, and the Christian’s heavenly experience, is. John spoke of heaven and its beauties in the Book of Revelation. Stephen spoke of heaven opening, and he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. Jesus was standing to receive him. Jesus here says, “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” Here is love to the maximum degree; here is our eternal, saving relationship with Christ fulfilled to the utmost. The Bride of Jesus, the church, will be in heaven without blemish, spot, or wrinkle.
Jesus said in John 17:24 in His prayer, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see my glory, which you have given Me…”
Paul referred to this in 2 Corinthians 3:18 when he wrote, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
Finally, when John writes in the last chapter of Revelation (22:3-4) “There will not longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night…” The longing of Moses' heart, to see God's face and glory, is fulfilled in heaven. The great blessing of the Old Testament, "May His face shine upon you" will be fulfilled in the fullest extent in heaven. Hallelujah!
Application: John 14:1-6
· The eternal promise of the gospel fulfilled wonderfully and gloriously in heaven is absolutely and undeniably real.
o “If it were not so…”
· The promise of heaven, along with attending glories and blessings, should be our daily consolation and comfort.
o “Do not let your heart be troubled…"
· The certainty of heaven, for the Christian, is part of our belief in God and Christ
o “…you believe in God, believe also in Me.”
· The way to heaven and all of its joys is through Jesus Christ.
1. Christ’s active righteousness is applied by imputation on the cross.
2. Forgiveness of sin through Christ’s sacrificial, substitutionary atoning death on the cross.
3. Eternal life through Christ’s resurrection demonstrating His victory over death and sin and affirming His authority, power, and life as the Lord of all.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
- We must never judge our Lord's grace and love for us in the midst of great pain when our Lord's mercies seem rare and infrequent.
- We must remember, especially when we hurt, that God is working a plan beyond the scope of our knowing. We must trust Him with all our hearts and minds.
- We must learn to leave unanswered questions with our Lord and His sovereign wisdom.
- We must remember when our strength runs out to rest fully on God's strength and grace; these will always bear us up in the waves of adversity.
- Finally, we must force ourselves to believe, no matter how hard it may seem, that there will come a time when the present pain will end and the day will grow bright with joy. There will be an AFTERWARDS.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
- He thought God was oppressing him.
- He thought God was looking favorably on the evil plans of wicked people.
- He thought God was condemning him.
- He thought God was contending (opposing) him.
- God's love for His people is constant; it never fluctuates or diminishes. There is nothing a child of God can do to make God love him more or less. When we feel unloved by God, remember how much God loves you. Christian friend, God demonstrated His love for His covenant people by sending the blessed second Person of the Trinity in human flesh as a sacrifice for their sin.
- Our wounded feelings are inaccurate barometers of reality. What we feel is not necessarily what is true. We must learn to differentiate between what feels real and what is real. Reality is based on truth not feeling. We must learn God's holy Word (the Scriptures) in order to rightly understand reality when we are hurting. It is best to learn truth before you hurt, so that when pain comes you can reflect meaningfully and comfortingly on what you know to be true in the Scriptures.
- Never make big decisions in a time of great pain. A wounded person makes poor decisions. When we are hurting deeply, attempt to refrain from making big decisions. Let time pass, try to get your emotional balance, before making big decisions.
- Soak in the confidence of future glory. When a Christian is hurting, he is in the perfect position to reflect on the joy and majesty of future glory. Often present pain enables us to better anticipate the glory of eternity.
- Do your duty trusting fully in God. It is best to not try to conquer the world when hurting. It is best, when hurting, to focus on what lies at hand. "What is my duty?" "What is my responsibility?" The answers to these questions will guide us as to best spend our time. We must act, work, live, and serve during times of pain. Do not soak in self-pity or self-loathing. It is better to be busy doing what we ought to do. As we do this, trust fully in God for the future.
- Worship the Lord. There is nothing more calming, more correcting, more soothing, more inspiring in the Christian's life than true worship. In worship we see ourselves in the context of the greatness of God. In worship we see our sin in the ambiance of divine purity. In worship we see the light of the providence of God when we think nothing but darkness is all around. If you would be healed of heart, go worship.