An Everlasting Rock

Friday, October 6, 2017, 6:27 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Our God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 26 (Select vv. ESV).

A Strong City (vv. 1-2)

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.”

The City of God used to be a physical city with physical walls, but now it is a spiritual city with God’s salvation as our protective barrier (walls). What this means, for one, is that the physical city of Jerusalem is no longer the Holy City of God (See: Gal. 4:22-31). The church, the body of Christ, is now God’s Holy City, heavenly Jerusalem, and our salvation is our defense and shield against Satan, sin and (spiritual) death. And, when I say “church,” I don’t mean physical buildings called “church,” or denominations, or human-based organizations and businesses also called “church.” God does not dwell in buildings built by human hands, but he dwells in the hearts of those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, and we, the people, are the church. We, the people of God, are the City of God, which is a strong city, because our salvation is our shield against all enemy forces.

We, the people of God, via faith in Jesus Christ, are also a holy nation. True Israel, that is of God, is not a physical nation, but a spiritual nation. And, it is believers in Jesus Christ who make up this nation (1 Pet. 2:9). But, it is not merely those who profess the name of Jesus, or who say they believe in him, that comprise this holy nation, but it is those who keep the faith and who are righteous, not merely positionally, but in practice. For, if we walk (in practice) in sin, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment. But, if we walk in the light, according to the Spirit, and by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live forever with Christ (See: Lu. 9:23-26; Ro. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:6).

Perfect Peace (vv. 3-4)

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

So many people are teaching salvation as though it is a once in a lifetime experience, then you have your ticket into heaven, and now you can live however you want, and one day you get to go be with Jesus. But, that is not what scripture teaches! Scripture teaches that we are saved (past), we are being saved (present) and that we will be saved (future) when Jesus Christ returns. It teaches us that we must walk in the Spirit and no longer live to gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh, if we want the righteous requirement of the law to be fulfilled in us. It teaches us, too, that God’s grace is not carte blanche to continue in sin, but that his grace instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions (lusts) and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return. We have to continue in Christ and in His Word and be keeping (in practice) his Word, and not be those who make a practice of sin, if we want to have eternal life with God.

The Christian life is to be lived to God, not to ourselves. Jesus is to be Lord (owner-master) of our lives, but not in name only. We are to be surrendered to our Lord, to walk in his ways, and in his truth, and to not have divided hearts of loyalty to “other gods” of this world, which could be our jobs, houses, entertainment, TV, sports, possessions, money, politicians, political platforms, famous people, traditions, culture and prestige, etc. We have to have minds which are stayed on (settled, remained, continued in) Jesus Christ. We can’t do this, though, if our minds are being bombarded with sensuality, seductiveness, immorality, lies, cheating, stealing and killing as a form of entertainment, especially on a daily or consistent basis. We need to be filling our minds, hearts and lives with what is godly, holy, righteous, moral, pure and good, and then we will know this perfect peace.

The Righteous Path (vv. 7-9a)

The path of the righteous is level;
you make level the way of the righteous.
In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
are the desire of our soul.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.

The path (way) of the righteous (godly) is level (straight, upright, unmixed), not crooked (dishonest, corrupt, perverse). So, why do so many Christians (or professing Christians) live like this is not true? Why do so many live as though Jesus did not cleanse them and deliver them from sin? I believe partly it is because they are deceived into believing that faith in Jesus Christ does not have to impact their daily lives. They have been told that a mere prayer or a mere acknowledgment of what Christ did for them in dying for their sins is enough to secure them heaven for eternity, and that nothing they do from this point forward can change that. Partly, too, this has been modeled to them by their parents, their church leaders, and their peers. And, growing up on TV, as we did in the 1950s and 1960s, had an enormous influence on what we considered as acceptable behavior vs. unacceptable.

So, how many of us truly desire after God with all our hearts? How many of wake in the morning hearing him speak his words to our hearts, and think about him in the stillness of the night, and even in the middle of the night? And, how many of us inquire of him throughout the day, seeking his wisdom and counsel for what we are to do and what we are to say and how we are to live? And, if we do, how many of us then follow our Lord in obedience and surrender to his will for our lives consistently, but not necessarily perfectly? Were we taught this by our leaders? Was it modeled to us? Or did we have to learn this on our own with our Lord only as our teacher? Or, is worldliness what has been our model, instead, yet mixed with religious practice?

We Learn Righteousness (vv. 9b-11a)

For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
If favor is shown to the wicked,
he does not learn righteousness;
in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
and does not see the majesty of the Lord.
O Lord, your hand is lifted up,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.

If we did not learn righteousness from our leaders, and if we did not learn it on our own (without godly human leadership) by seeking God with all our hearts, then we may have to learn it the hard way. We may have to face some divine correction, rebuke and discipline in order to learn what we need to learn concerning God’s righteous requirements for the lives of those who choose to follow him. Yet, even if we were taught what was right, and even if righteousness was modeled to us, but we, instead of following it, went our own way, and we did what we wanted, instead of what God wants for us, and if we have not repented of our sin, then we, too, may have to face some divine chastisement in order that we might humble ourselves before God in true repentance and faith (or renewed faith) in Jesus Christ. For, our God is holy and righteous, and he has called us to be holy and righteous, too.

Our God / Chris Tomlin / Jesse Reeves
Jonas Myrin / Matt Redman

Our God is greater; our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

 

Advertisements

Help in Trouble

Thursday, August 10, 2017, 2:32 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 46 (NASB).

God our Refuge (vv. 1-3)

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

Life is full of changes. There are no guarantees that life, as we now know it, will continue. Our jobs could go away. Our spouses could die, or they could leave us for someone else. The stock market could crash, and we could experience another “Great Depression.” Our present form of government, as we understand it to be, could suddenly disappear, and in its place the beast (one world government) could rule supreme. Our houses could burn down to the ground. A hurricane could sweep our houses (or apartments) away, or so could a major earthquake or a tsunami. We could suddenly be struck very ill, or we could be involved in a serious automobile accident. Or, our nation could suddenly be attacked, once more, by a foreign nation (or entity).

Yet, in all of these things, and so much more, God is our refuge and strength to help us in times of trouble, if our hope and our trust is in him, and in his salvation. He is completely sovereign (in control) over all that he has made. He is all powerful, too. Nothing catches him by surprise, and there is not anything which he cannot handle. He will see us through any and all changes in our lives or in our circumstances. He may or may not remove us from our difficult situations, but he will give us the strength and courage we need to endure, to persevere, and to remain faithful to him in all things despite the difficulties we are experiencing in this present world of ours. So, we need to rest in him, trust in his grace, believe his promises, and carry on in Him.

Our Stronghold (vv. 4-7)

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

When difficult times come our way, which they will, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not be frightened in any way by the waves of the sea crashing in all around us. God’s presence is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us if we are truly his by faith in Jesus Christ. His grace is sufficient to help us in times of need. And, not only that, but God allows difficulties to come into our lives to purify us, to prune us, to make us holy, to conform us into his likeness, to revive us, and to mature us in our walks of faith, as well as to correct and rebuke us, if we have gone astray, so that we will turn from our sinful rebellion to walking in his holiness and righteousness.

We don’t ever have to be afraid of anything. Nothing can happen to us in this life but what God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, and he will see us through it to victory. He will provide all that we need, but not necessarily all that we think we need, or all that we want. Especially here in America we have this idea that we need so much, but we don’t. We can survive on very little, in reality. We don’t need much food, either. Restaurants have been notorious for serving large portions of food, and to one person, which could probably feed an entire family in another country. But, we don’t need a lot of food, and, in fact, it is unhealthy to eat so much.

What comes to mind right now are the lyrics to the song “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” (by Henry F. Lyte):

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition, God and Christ are still my own!

Cease Striving (vv. 8-11)

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Yet, it isn’t just that God allows troubles and hardships, but sometimes he is the one who brings them upon us. He is not only a God of mercy and grace, but he is a God of justice and righteousness. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, which is why he has delayed judgments, in many cases. Yet, he is a God who judges the people of the earth, too, and even his followers, and in order to bring those who have strayed from their pure devotion to him back to him as their Only Lord and Master. He warned of this in Revelation 2-3, among other passages of scripture. There he called his wandering saints (parts of his church) to repentance, and he warned of divine judgment if they did not repent.

God also judges nations and peoples who have come against his children, i.e. against those who have been born anew of the Spirit of God via death to sin and resurrection to new life in Christ Jesus, their Lord. I believe much or all of the world is already under the judgment of God. I know that America is, and that what our nation (our government) has done to other nations, it will be done to us. And, what our nation has done to their own people, and to God’s laws, and to demoralize our nation, and to dilute the gospel message of salvation, God will judge, too. Yet, he will do this to stop all the evil, and so that the gospel message will go out to the ends of the earth before he returns for his bride, so that many more will be saved.

So, we are not to be anxious or worried or fearful when these things take place, but we are to put our trust in the Lord, and believe that he will work all things together for good for those who love him; for those who have been called according to his purpose. Instead of letting life’s difficulties get us down, we must recognize who God is, that he is God, and that he will be exalted (praised, revered) in the earth, and among the nations. He is still with us, he has not deserted us, and he is our stronghold. He will see us through to the end, and he will accomplish his purposes in all of our lives.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!