Humble Yourself Under the Mighty Hand of God

So here’s a situation:

A person took offense at something you said or did. You’re pretty sure you did nothing wrong. You talk to God about it, and don’t feel a conviction of wrongdoing. You don’t see any need to apologize because you were blameless.

And yet, you feel this little niggling to apologize. Maybe you argue with God about that, remind Him that you did nothing wrong.

But if God is prodding you to apologize, then it’s best to do it.

Why??? Isn’t it just stupid to apologize when you’re in the right??

God doesn’t do stupid things.

Maybe it’s not about you being right. Maybe God is teaching you about a humble heart. And maybe God is doing something through you to that other person. Sometimes that other person just needs to see you humble yourself.

James 4.10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

God gave me a maxim several months ago: “It’s not about me. You will do Your work in me as I do Your work in serving others.” And, “I serve others so they may glorify You.”

Give God glory. Obey Him.

1 Peter 5.6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

And Romans 12.18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

It’s not about being right. It’s about being obedient to God.

How far are you willing to go to humble yourself, to obey God? Are you willing to give up your rights?

The other person doesn’t need to see that you were right. That’s up to God. It may never happen. But God will work in both hearts when you obey.

When you obey, and apologize, remember that it is God to Whom you are bowing. Don’t make a show and be all magnanimous about it.

1 Peter 3.15 – 17 But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. …  respond with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience …  For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Maybe someone needs that kind of unconditional love; the kind that will still humble himself under attack. Maybe someone needs extra proof of God’s love.

Luke 14.11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

Just a thought.

Pick Up Your Cross

I’ve recently been reading The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel. [As a side note, if you want to read a comprehensive, Christian perspective on the history of our country, read this book, and the two that follow: From Sea to Shining Sea and Sounding Forth the Trumpet. These are really big books; if you want something easier to read, they have children’s versions of each.]

In the book, reference is made to the Reverend Thomas Hooker, a man of God. Hooker wrote:

“You must not think to go to heaven on a featherbed; if you will be Christ’s disciples, you must take up His Cross, and it will make you sweat.  By Cross, we understand troubles, because the death of the Cross was the bitterest and most accursed… [A man] must take up his cross because it is his own… We must not bring misery on ourselves; there is no credit or comfort in this. The text does not say, ‘Let him make his cross,’ no, it is made already.”

This led me to a rabbit trail of thoughts along the lines of, “Do we try to make our own crosses?” “Of course we do. We make up our own troubles all the time.” “Why would we make our own crosses? Do we think that, if we’re having an easy life, we need to bring drama into it?” “I think some people do; some people cannot live without drama.” “But what about trials and tribulations that we must all go through?? Well, those are the ones to which God sets us. Jesus’ Cross was designed by God before the world ever came into being.” “So how can we see what the difference is between a Cross from God, and a cross we make for ourselves?”

I have a beloved friend who was going through some really rough waters for a time. Nothing seemed to go right, and things they never thought could go wrong, did. A strong Christian family, she, her husband, and three boys were diving into and devouring God’s Word daily, having deep discussions about obedience. God brought them to researching repentance. As their troubles continued, they took to grabbing one another by the shirt collars and demanding, “Do you have unconfessed sin in your life???”

Their time of desert wandering brought them all to a rich land, flowing with milk and honey. They still had the trials of humankind, but they now lived on a higher plane of rich understanding in their walk with a very personal, loving God.

Jesus said that we are to take up our cross and follow Him. (Matthew 16.24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.) It is not a cross of our own making. God designs each cross for His own beloved children (and we are not able to escape the cross that God designed for us).

In thinking that we must suffer for God, we must not bring misery upon ourselves – we don’t need to make our own trouble, indeed we should not make our own trouble. As we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 30.21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.), God will direct us in the way we should go.

Sometimes we try to out-reason God, thinking that we have a better way. Or we fail to seek His guidance in ministry. Or we listen to the world instead of to God. That’s when we start crafting our own cross.  And we start to love and cherish and protect that cross because we think it’s a treasure.

In her insightful post, https://heavensreef.wordpress.com/2022/11/13/sunday-reflections-18/  Maxine quotes Oswald Chambers, “always guard against self-chosen service for GOD”

She goes on to comment, “Don’t say yes to HIM and then do whatever you do for HIM in your way.  Not by your own might, but by HIS might!”

The cross we make will become too heavy to bear. We harm ourselves and others in continuing to carry that cross. We try to make life better around the cross, rearranging important life issues around it. That cross starts to eat up our lives.

Don’t try to put a band-aid on your festering wound. Take your whole life to the Great Physician and let Him heal you. Even though it hurts to give up something we’ve come to love, God will gently guide us through the letting-go process.

As Maxine says, “Don’t let this world tie up your hands, instead lay them right open for GOD to give you something to do!”

Wherever you are in life, whether you have been carrying your own cross, or whether it is a cross God set for you: the answer is to cry out to God, read His Word, and walk in obedience. He will give you the peace you need. His is the only peace we can live with.

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3

We receive joy in obedience; sometimes we receive joy after obedience.

Prayers for the Persecuted Church

John 16.33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

The church – the body of Jesus Christ – is persecuted. If you are a firm Christian, then you have likely experienced some persecution, whether you just felt like it, or it was blatant.

Countless Christians have been severely persecuted throughout history; untold numbers are suffering currently. In many countries, Christians are ostracized, beaten, imprisoned, tortured, maimed, and killed for their faith. Those who remain faithful to God, who walk in obedience to His calling and leading, must tread carefully, knowing it is imperative to walk only in the steps He directs.

In our own country, we must prepare for persecution. (Please see my last post, And So We Bring Judgment.).

Whether you pray for yourself, for those you know who are persecuted, those who suffer mild ribbing, who get the cold shoulder from their family and friends; or you pray for those who are taxed beyond what we can realize: here are some prayers to say on their behalf.

Lord God, we lift up all those who are persecuted by the world and by Satan himself.

May they palpably feel Your presence, and know You are with them in their trials. May they feel your comfort. (Joshua 1.5)

May they understand that we are praying for them, lifting them before Your throne of mercy and grace, on their behalf. (2 Timothy 1.3, Philemon 1.4)

May they depend entirely upon Your guidance as they serve You and spread the good news of salvation to a lost world, to the people around them. Give direction as to when to speak, when to remain silent, to whom to speak, and Your words. (Isaiah 30.21)

Give them discreet boldness to proclaim You in word or deed. Give them wisdom. (Acts 9.29)

May they mature in their own faith: may they read, study, meditate, and memorize Your Word as they have access. May they hide Your Word in their hearts that they might not sin against You. (Psalms 119)

As faithful Christians, may we all be reading and memorizing Your Word, preparing for when we won’t have access. (Psalms 119.11)

May they remain joyful amid suffering, forgive their persecutors, and appropriate Your great love toward all. (Acts 5.40-42)

May they continually give You praise. (Psalms 34.1-4)

May they receive comfort from those You provide for them. Send them Your people. (2 Corinthians 7.5-7)

May they continually prostrate themselves before You in confession and repentance, maintaining a clean heart and a right spirit before You. Give them hearts to early sense Your conviction. (Psalms 51.10)

May You provide them with food and shelter and comforts; and may they give You thanks for each gift. (Colossians 1.12)

May they praise You with joy in music. (Psalms 150)

May they remember that it is man who is punishing and persecuting, not You, Lord God. May they rest in the peace that is only found in obeying and following your will. (Psalms 119.78)

When they have given up everything, when everything is taken from them, and they forsake all to follow You, may they bask in Your glory and love and riches. (2 Corinthians 4.7-12)

May those who are imprisoned be free in spirit, if not in body. (1 Corinthians 9.25)

We pray Your protection, Lord God, upon those whom You call to suffering, according to Your will. (Psalms 20.1)

Use persecution to spur a revival! (2 Chronicles 7.14)

Whatever their circumstances, give them the right words, wisdom, boldness or silence, and a strong sense of Your presence. (Mark 13.11)

May they find peace in the sufficiency of Your grace, even in their weakness. (2 Corinthians 12.9)

May they draw from Your greater power. (Acts 1.8, Romans 15.13)

May they live lives to inspire those around them, friend or foe. (2 Thessalonians 3.9)

Provide peace in their personal / interpersonal relationships and daily lives (Isaiah 26.3, 4)

May they adjust their expectations to Yours, Almighty God. (1 Corinthians 2.16)

Revelations 12.11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

For more information on persecuted Christians and how to pray more specifically, see these resources:

www.persecution.com/

www.opendoorsusa.org

www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution

christianpersecution.com/

And So We Bring Judgment

In the Old Testament, God chose Israel to be uniquely His people. (Deuteronomy 14.2 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.)

As much as He loved and blessed His beloved chosen, God’s people kept turning away from Him and going their own sinful ways. In order to bring His people back to Him, God often brought judgment upon them in the forms of pestilence, drought, sickness, and foreign invasion. Those measures would bring about temporary commitment to God, but their sins kept multiplying. Finally, God appointed Babylon to take His people captive to another land for 70 years.

Sometimes, as I read the Old Testament, I catch myself thinking, “C’mon, you guys. What don’t you get? You had God right there, you had the pillars of cloud and fire; you had God speaking directly to Moses; you had manna; you had the parting of the Red Sea and of the Jordan River; you had multiple miracles; you had the prophets. How were you so unfaithful?”

In the New Testament, God again chose His people, through His Holy Spirit, by the blood of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2.9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.)

And now I sometimes think of current Christian culture, “C’mon, people. What don’t we get? We have the Holy Spirit of God Almighty living within us; we have His entire written Word of Truth. How are we so unfaithful???”

God blesses obedience. When we are not obedient, God cannot bless us as He wishes. Sure, we live under His Hand of grace and mercy. But, as in the Old Testament, God will not always look the other way, and He will bring His people into judgment.

In America, we are a mixed culture of Christians and non-Christians. We cannot expect non-Christians to live in accordance to God’s Ways. Cannot we expect Christians to live His way?

Obviously we cannot, as millions of Christians live their lives no differently from non-Christians. I read discouraging articles about the decline of percentages of Christians believing the Bible is true; about Christians accepting philosophies from other religions as true; believing that, if you are a good person you go to Heaven; that truth is what you believe is true; that only a small percentage of active Christians actually read the Bible on a regular basis.

God’s Word is the Truth. If we don’t read His Word, how will we know what is true in a world that presents enticing arguments for a flesh-loving “truth?” How will we know how to obey Him? How will we know what will bring us the greatest joy and peace? How will we escape becoming our own gods?

If you consider yourself a Christian, but do not read God’s Word; if you don’t think that it’s important to believe every Word He says; if you believe it’s okay to absorb into your life the prevailing cultural standards and morality tenets: I say to you, where is your hope? If your hope is in Jesus, then act like it. If your hope is in your “good deeds” and your “heart for others,” I pray God’s mercy upon you to fall on your knees and repent.

Colossians 2.4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. Do not let people of this world entice you into believing their lies. Go to God. Read His Word to find out the Truth.

Galatians 6.7, 8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting

Romans 8.28 says, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Do not expect God to work together for good to you if you do not love Him. Do you love God, or do you love yourself? How do you know if you love God? He gives us the proof: John 14.15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Colossians 3.1, 2 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Our culture is killing itself. It’s not so much that the non-Christians are devolving into an ungodly society; it’s that God’s own chosen people are turning away from Him and turning to evil. It is God’s chosen upon whom He will bring judgment, just like the Israelites.

I used to think that we are becoming so evil that someone is going to take us over, like in Old Testament Israel; that some country will take us away captive.

I don’t know about that any more.

May I submit to you: it has already happened. We have invited evil, and it has taken over America. We are not being hauled away to another country, but we have been driven into captivity in our own land.

Look where we are: floods, hurricanes, pestilence, fires, earthquakes, heat waves, drought, excessive cold, atrocities, wars, genocides, abuses, social rage, mass murders, depression, anxiety, suicides, drug addictions/overdoses/deaths, rampant disease, decreased life expectancy, obesity, medical dependency, gender crises, abortions, sexual perversions. We have brought these upon ourselves by turning away from God.

If you are one who is still reading your Bible, voraciously devouring God’s Word and meditating on His wisdom, bless you. If you are not, I ardently encourage you to do so.

Think of the book of Daniel. Daniel and his buddies were Godly young men, living in an evil Israelite society. In God’s judgment, they were taken away to Babylon, along with all the other Israelites. Look how they prepared themselves. They must have had parents who were strong in faith. These young men knew God’s Word, knew His protection and love. They had hidden God’s Word in their hearts, that they might not sin against Him. Although they faced dark and fiery trials, they had purposed beforehand that they would remain obedient to their God. And God saved them and blessed them. They became mighty men of wisdom and character.

I read current articles about the persecution coming down on Christians: People losing jobs or facing court because of their faith; Shows on television portraying churches and Christians in foul, silly, or suspicious perspectives. Our mainstream media is advancing a portrait of Christians as radical, dangerous, and subversive enemies of the true American spirit.

Christians, be ready for things to get worse. We may soon be facing a time when we will not be allowed to read our Bibles, when churches will be shuttered, when we will not be allowed to share the good news of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.

We must prepare:

  • Read God’s Word. Every day. Study it. Memorize it.
  • Repent of your sins. Claim God’s forgiveness, and walk in His light.
  • Continue in prayer.
  • Be a shining light for Jesus wherever you go.
  • Fellowship with other Christian saints. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together. Go to church. Listen to Biblical preaching.
  • Sing songs of worship to our mighty God.
  • Pray God to show you what compromises you can make; and decide on those things you cannot compromise. Make your mark in concrete, and do not cross it, regardless of consequences. God blesses obedience, and He will guard you and protect you as you walk with Him.

Psalms 119.11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Moreover, here is the beginning of Psalms 119. Read it. Open your Bible and read the whole thing. Read it again and again. Pray over it, and let God penetrate your heart, soul, mind, and spirit.

1Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.

2Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

3They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.

4Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

5O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

6Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

7I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

8I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

10With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

12Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.

13With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.

14I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

15I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

16I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

Jeremiah 18.7-10 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; 8If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. 9And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

2 Chronicles 7.14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

The Queen’s Service

photo from google

I’ve been interested in the recent news clips of the life, death and funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. As is usual at funerals, nary a word against her has been spoken: all comments and opinions have been most positive, mentioning her dedication to service and duty to her country. But then, she has received positive comments and opinions all her life.

Queen Elizabeth has left an honorable impression on the world, and has done so all her life. At the age of 21, before she ascended the throne, she pledged to dedicate her life to service of her country. She followed through on that pledge. All her public oratory has been dignified, thoughtful, and caring. She has promoted peace and unity with grace. She did not promote division. She was poised, and gentle. All she did and said was for the good of her people and country.

I think of this, and write of this, because it occurs to me that she exemplified the life of a true servant, and we, as servants of Christ, can learn something from her. At all times she put aside her personal life, her personal feelings, in deference to those she served. She knew, at a young age, that she would be a monarch, and that the most important way she could fulfil this important duty was to die to self and live to serve others. From testimony of those who knew her well, this wisdom and strength came from her Lord, Jesus Christ.

She left behind a positive legacy. She did not seem to seek to serve special interests, she did not appear to work under the table or accept bribes. Those who knew her and served her understood, from beginning to end, that she lived to serve the country as a whole, that she lived to do good to her people.

May we learn from her, and do the same: may we set aside our selves and serve our King, our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10.33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

Philippians 2.3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Matthew 20.28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Weeping for God’s People

Psalms 119.136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.

Lord, my God, I weep for Your people.

You have given Your people Your Word and Your Spirit. We are without excuse in our sin.

Hosea 4.6-9 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 7As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. 8They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. 9And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings

Lord, You have called Your people to follow Your ways so that You may bless us, and so that we will receive and live in the fullness of Your joy.

But, my Lord, we have sinned. We do not live by Your ways. We have become comfortable in our own fleshly ways. We have turned far from You. We do not walk in Your light, but have preferred the shadow and darkness of our sins.

Ezekiel 20.19, 20 I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; 20And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God. 21Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness

Lord, I pray You will bless us with a crushing guilt. May You spread over Your people a burning sense of conviction. We have wronged You, and we must repent so that we may live and not die.

Lord, we are deserving of the many tragedies and catastrophes filling our country and our world today: wildfires, floods, plagues and sickness, famine, hurricanes, tornadoes, evil perpetrators, and wars. I pray You call Your people, bring us to our knees in repentance before we are completely wiped out or taken away.

Amos 2.4 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked:

2 Kings 18.11, 12 And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes: 12Because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.

Jeremiah 9.12b – 14a for what the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through? 13And the LORD saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; 14But have walked after the imagination of their own heart

Bring us to our knees before You, that we may confess, and then praise You and give You glory, O Lord.

Psalms 119.137, 138 Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments. 138Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.

You long to gather us under Your wings, my Lord, but we would have none of You. Turn our hearts to You, Lord God. Cause us to hunger for and crave Your Word, that we might eat of it and be filled, and walk in Your ways again.

Psalms 119.136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.

Recipe Friday: Ha! This Really Works! Keeping Strawberries Fresh

I bought two cartons of fresh strawberries, and wondered how to keep them fresh for the longest time. Every time I buy strawberries, they’re already moldy or soft in just about the next day or two. So I went on the Internet and found this site, where Taste of Home tried out several methods: https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-store-strawberries/ .

I tried out their winner, which was to store them, unwashed, in tightly sealed mason jars, in the ‘fridge. I moved them straight from the store’s carton into my jars, tightened the lids, and put them in my crisper. That was on a Wednesday morning. The pictures you see are from this afternoon, Friday – a week and two days later!

They turned out fresh. One strawberry was slightly softened in one spot, but that was all the deterioration I had. After I washed them, I popped one in my mouth to make sure the taste and texture were still fresh, and everything was great.

I love it when something works! 😁

Still Learning, Pt 3

In my last post, I mentioned that God created evil, and I cited Isaiah 45.7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

I found it interesting that the replies contained comments about God creating evil, and that some do not agree with this, or have other ideas.

So this post is an invitation to discuss where you think evil came from.

My position:

  • God is good and love and light. He is eternal, and has ever been eternal. I don’t think evil has been present from eternity past, so it must have been created.
  • Where would evil have come from, if God didn’t create it?
  • I don’t think that evil is simply the absence of the presence of God, because, if that were so, then evil would have to have been co-eternal with God. And, God is omnipresent.
  • I cited Isaiah 45.7, and the word evil is from ra’, which can be translated as calamity, bad, evil. In this passage, God says He created evil; He doesn’t say, as in many other passages, that He used evil, or sent evil; but that He created it. Perhaps in this passage He is referring only to this instance; but, to me, it shows that God creates evil.
  • I believe God has complete control over evil, that He can send or use or prevent.
  • I think Lucifer may have been the first entity to choose evil. Did he choose it immediately after God created evil, or after God created him?

I am really interested in other perspectives, with Bible passages to corroborate. What do you think?

Still Learning Pt 2

Another question that pops into my mind: This one has been an ongoing question, as it likely has for many of you. And my answer may not be your answer. But it is what I feel God is showing me.

Why does God allow such horrific evil in our midst?

We see horrendous, unspeakable atrocities perpetrated unto innocent children, unsuspecting spouses, parents, neighbors, and friends; crimes committed in private homes, or in public; mass murders; political villainy; people we know, and people we don’t know; weather disasters, diseases and accidents killing, maiming, and destroying lives; and countless other personal or public barbarity.

God created evil. (Isaiah 45.7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.) We know this: where else could darkness and evil come from, had not God created it?

And, in His love, God allowed humans to choose between Him (goodness and love) and evil. We often choose evil. (Jeremiah 17.9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?) So the wickedness we witness is not from God; He only gave us the capacity to choose it. What we witness is the depravity of people, consummating their evil desires.

I think the evil we see is God giving us a taste of hell.

Just as Jesus describes how the Kingdom of God is upon us, that we can live in the Kingdom of God here on Earth; I think that God gives us a pretty clear picture of the Earth that belongs to Satan. (2 Corinthians 4.4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them)

 I think we must heed the pictures of evil that God provides for us. The wailing, the fear, the stress, the crying and anguish and despair that we see in this world are but a foretaste of spending eternity in hell.

TURN AWAY FROM IT! REACH FOR GOD!

In this world we at least have God’s mercy to assuage our griefs. Even those who do not believe in God can receive the blessings He showers upon the whole world. In hell, there will be no presence of God to comfort, no hope to cling to, no justice to look for, no one to save.

We have God in the here and now. Run to Him! Receive His comfort, His hope, His salvation. Receive the faith that tells us, without a shadow of a doubt, that we get to spend eternity with our Lord God in Heaven. And receive His Spirit that guides us into all Truth and Peace and Joy while we yet live here.

Ephesians 5.8, 9 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.

Still Learning Pt 1

image from messianic-revolution.com, text from King James Version

I get lots of questions swirling through my head as I read the Bible, or as I contemplate events in light of God’s Word.

I’ve been reading through Exodus of late, and I’m in the middle of constructing the tabernacle and all its furnishings and implements and tools and curtains and robes and ephods…

And I wondered: Why was God so explicit with so many intricate details in fashioning each aspect of His holy worship? I mean, I get it that He gave detailed instructions to Moses to give to the workers – they needed exact blueprints. But why record all that in His eternal Word so that all the generations to come would have available to read? We aren’t re-building His tabernacle, after all.*

Or are we?

In the New Testament, God reveals that we are now His tabernacle.

2 Corinthians 5.1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 Peter 1.13, 14 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;  Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

Just as the Israelites moved around in the wilderness, and carried the tabernacle with them, we have the freedom to BE God’s tabernacle, to carry Him with us wherever we are (or maybe, it’s that He carries us).

And, just as God gave explicit detail in how to construct that tabernacle, He gives us explicit detail in how to construct our own. The entirety of Scripture is a how-to lesson for worshiping our Lord.

2 Timothy 3.16, 17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

He provides instruction in how to deal with Him, with others, and with ourselves for each aspect of life.

In addition to building our temple, God provides cleansing. He gives us Jesus, the Word, who washes us clean (Ephesians 5.26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,), the springs of Living Water to refresh us in our works (John 7.38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water).

And it’s all done in love! God designed us for worship: it’s how we receive our greatest joys and live in the greatest peace.

As an aside, I also wondered about two other things as relates to building the tabernacle:

  1. When we, as humans, plan out and design a new space, we get giddy with excitement about the doing and how it will turn out. Was God giddy?
  2. What was God’s purpose in having His people construct the tabernacle? He could have miraculously ‘poofed’ it into existence, and everyone would have been totally awed. But I think there’s something to be said about making it with their own hands. It involves ownership. Most things mean more when you work for it, except salvation. But even the gift of salvation means more when we put some sweat into it to work it out.

* I get excited to think that we CAN rebuild the tabernacle, just as God designed, since He left us His exact instruction. Each aspect of the tent, implements, furnishings, clothing, and rituals represents an aspect of Jesus, and we have so much to learn from it.