and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Know the Lord- Part 1

And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Jehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more.  Jer. 31:34

       So, what does it mean to know the Lord?  Well, if I think in context of myself, the people who know me are not those who read about me in a book, nor see me in the store or say hi or goodbye to me a couple times a week.  Likewise, the people who come up and ask for help often don’t really know me either, although they do learn what I am able to do.

       The people who know me are those that spend personal time with me, in the good times and the bad; the ones who don’t bail on our relationship because they don’t like something I’ve done or not done (ouch Lord!) or because it’s too hard.  They’re the people who not only talk to me, but share their lives with me, and listen to me in return.  They ask me how I’m doing and care enough to hear my reply, and after years of time together, they can almost read my mind.

       In other words, it is not knowledge they’ve acquired in their heads, but heart knowledge- that which resides deep inside over time and with effort.  This is the same with the Lord.  We can read all about Him and know every fact there is to know, but it doesn’t mean we know Him personally.

Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD." Jer. 9:24 ESV
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jer. 31:33 ESV

       It is not the learning of facts or intellectual truths, but a personal understanding of the Truth, as in Jesus Christ; “…I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” (Jh. 14:6).  Those who only learn facts are those who are “ever learning and never able to come to the full knowledge of the truth.(2Tm. 3:7)

       We can know God’s deeds, His attributes, His abilities, memorize His Words, even teach all we know to the entire world, but it doesn’t mean we know Him or His ways.  The Hebrews knew all about their God, but love for Him was not in their hearts.  They knew His works because they saw them happen, but they never wanted to get closer to the Lord whereas Moses knew His ways.

this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me… Is. 29:13
He revealed his plans to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. Ps. 103:7 ISV
For forty years I was grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways; Ps. 95:10; Heb. 3:10

       We have the ability to be personal with God.  He started a personal relationship with Adam and Eve in the garden, “And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God…” Gen 3:8 (They knew His voice and knew who it was despite being hidden. It was not strange to them He was there, so He must have done it often.) and if we read through the Bible, a relationship is what He always works toward with man.  Just knowing about Him isn’t good enough!

And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. Jh. 17:3
I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection… Php 3:8-10 ESV

Friday, May 24, 2013

To Bathe or Not to Bathe

       My thoughts went to weird places today: I was wondering what would happen if I decided to completely stop bathing.  How long would it take for people to see my general grimy-ness and give disgusted looks?  How long before my family complained about the odor exuding from my body?  How long would it take for my two teenagers to pretend they didn't know me in public- or would they just tell everyone I'd gone crazy?

       As I contemplated bathing rituals in North America I thought of the great variance in timing: once or twice a week are now uncommon.  More frequently timing is every other day or once a day.  Occasionally there is a person who will shower two or more times a day.  What is it that determines our timing?  Basically how quickly we get dirty from being out in the world doing what we need to do and how soon we 'feel' dirty.

       Most of us are very careful to remain clean for our spouses, kids, co-workers, and anyone else who will notice us.  We buy bath gloves, special soaps, shampoos and conditioners, shavers to remove unwanted hair, and toothbrushes to keep our teeth shiny and breath fresh.  We usually go fair amounts of effort to make sure we are clean and look good, at least before we go out in public.

But do we go to the same effort to ensure we are clean/ look good on the inside for God?

       Man may judge based on looks, but God does not, “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.(1Sm. 16:7 ESV)  God isn’t so concerned about our outward appearance (or smell) but our inward one.  Is our heart (feelings, will, intellect, man’s center) clean, does it look and smell good or is it dirty, grimy or smelly from doing our thing in the world and because we just can’t stop sinning?  If so, what do we do about that; do we wash ourselves?

First clean the inside of the cup, so that its outside may also be clean. Mt. 23:26
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Ps. 51:7,10
(enter through the veil) let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies having been washed with pure water. Heb. 10:22

       It is interesting to note that John the Baptist preached repentance (Lk. 3:3; Mr. 1:4) for hearts to be ready and open for Jesus so that people would draw near to Him (Jm. 4:8; Heb. 10:22).  We likewise need to repent (commanded by God Ac. 17:30) so our hearts are ready to draw near to Him, so that we may be forgive- made clean again.  If God is as the refining purifier (Mal. 3:3; Heb. 12:29), the closer we get to Him, the more we will be refined (1Pt. 1:7; Is. 48:10) and come out as gold (Job. 23:10). 

       So how often should we seek the Lord to bathe, I mean cleanse us?  As often as needed to be clean.  Here are some great Scriptures on confessing and cleansing:
I confessed my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, I will confess my transgression to Jehovah; and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. Ps. 32:5
let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us… Heb. 12:1 
that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, Eph. 5:26
Cleanse me from hidden sin. Ps. 19:12
the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1Jh. 1:7,9

to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!!!
Thank You Lord!!! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Love Could Change Alot

       It’s been very difficult for me to write of late.  The four part reason for that is: I am not spending enough time (for me) with the Lord, I have had too much on the mom plate, health issues, and sadness over the general condition of humankind and ‘the church’.  Now that I’m thinking of it, I should probably be listening to some good teaching every day to encourage and help me keep going.  Note to self- remember.

       There is no excuse for realizing things so late in life, but here is another thing I just grasped yesterday.  Yes humankind is messed up because of sin, but we are all sinners and that will not change to the end.  What makes it so bad on the earth today isn’t the wickedness we do, but that we do not truly love one another- human to human- as we should.  Ultimately, if we truly loved a person, we would not do anything to harm them at any time and we would constantly be out for their best interests.

Love never does anything that is harmful to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the Law. Rom. 13:10 ISV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Php. 2:3,4 ESV

       That would eliminate all oppression, abuse, murder, adultery, theft, cheating, war, desire for power and immense wealth, etc.  Hunger would be eliminated because we would make sure all people had their needs met, not just our own.  No one would struggle to pay their bills because we would love each other enough to share, those who own businesses would treat their employees generously, and employees would work hard at their jobs.  Politicians would be honest and blameless- only out for the good of the people.  No one would drive drunk, set bombs off, ignore their debt, use the term ‘buyer beware’ to justify their cheating, disrespect another human, profit off others addictions, etc. 

       So how do we love people that way?  First, we need to know the God who is love and loves us, even while sinners (Rom. 5:8).  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God. The one who does not love has not known God. For God is love.(1Jh. 4:7,8)  “…Yea, I have loved you with an everlasting love…” (Jer. 31:3)  (Nothing)shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Rom. 8:39).  Second, we need to allow God to change us daily, learning from Him, “But regarding brotherly love, you do not need that I write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.(1Th. 4:9)  Third, we need to know God commanded us to love.

Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Mt. 22:37-39

       Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God completely because He knew we could only experience abundant life and eternal life this way.  He also knew that the only way we could truly love others is with God first in our lives.  We are to love others, Christian or not.  We are to do good to others, Christian or not.  And as we follow Christ daily bearing our crosses (Lk. 14:27) and crucifying the flesh (Gal. 5:24), we have the assurance that He will continue to work in us until He returns, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,(Php. 1:6)

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 1Jh. 4:11
So then as we have time, let us work good toward all, especially toward those of the household of faith. Gal. 6:10
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it. Pr. 3:27
Therefore to him who knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin. Jm. 4:17

Let all that you do be done in love.
1Cor. 16:4

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Jehoshaphat, A Good King- Sort Of

       After the reign of Solomon, the nation of Israel was split into two countries: 10 tribes to the north called Israel and Benjamin and Judah to the south called Judah.  Israel was given to various kings, but David’s line continued to reign over Judah.  Into this line Jehoshaphat was born.  He began his reign at 35 and ruled for 25 years.  The Bible records his reign as a good one:

And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing right in the eyes of Jehovah... 1Kn. 22:43
but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. Therefore the LORD established the kingdom in his hand... His heart was courageous in the ways of the LORD… 2Chr. 17:4-6 ESV

This is most of the highlights from 1Kn. 22 and 2Chr. 17-20:

       (KJ short for king Jehoshaphat in this post)
-KJ made peace with the kings of Israel, starting with Ahab, the wicked, idolatrous ruler of Israel 1Kn. 22:44
-KJ (3rd year) sends officials to teach God’s laws throughout Judah 2Chr. 17:7-9
-KJ arranged marriage for son Jehoram with Ahab’s daughter 2Chr. 18:1
(this caused Jehoram to have an evil reign as he followed the kings of Israel 1Chr. 21:6)

-KJ visits Ahab 1Kn 22, 2Chr. 18
-Ahab wants KJ to go to war against Ramoth-Gilead, Syria
-KJ says something like ‘sure, we are the same.  what’s mine is yours’ (v.4)
-KJ asks for word from God, whether they should go
-Ahab sends for prophets of false gods who say ‘go and you will win’
-KJ wants a prophet of Jehovah who then contradicts the false ones
-KJ and Ahab choose to go to war anyway
(after this a prophet said) Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? ... Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asheroth out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God. 2Chr. 19:2,3

-KJ appointed judges (civil and religious) told to judge righteously 2Chr. 19:5-11
-nations come to make war with KJ 2Chr. 20
-KJ seeks Jehovah for help and calls for fast v.3
-Jehovah saves, gives Judah rest from strife
-KJ allies himself with king Ahaziah of Israel (an evil, idolatrous king)
-God disciplines KJ

       So I look at king Jehoshaphat’s life and say hmmm.  He didn’t seem like he quite knew what he wanted.  Sure he was passionate in the nation following and worshipping Jehovah- and his many actions proved that, but he also asked for a word and then completely ignored what God told him.  He was so desirous of being at peace with Israel, that he arranged his son to be married to an idolatrous woman.  Did he think that through at all- did he ask God first?  KJ humbles himself to pray and fast and God miraculously saves, then he makes an alliance with Israel’s king Ahaziah.  It seems like KJ was still trying to have his own control in some things.

       It makes me question, was his heart really into God, knowing God, and loving God, or was he only serving God?  Was he just fallible or prone to sin like the rest of us?  Perhaps he was content to be ‘good enough’.  Personally, I question all of us Christians today.  Are we content to be ‘good enough’ but ignore God’s will for us when it’s not convenient or not our desire?  Do we go to church, say grace, read the Bible occasionally, but ally ourselves with the world?

       Question to self, do I ally myself with the behaviours, attitudes and values of the world?  Do I always seek the Lord and when I hear His voice, do I obey or let my flesh decide?  When our lives are over, what will the Lord say about us, for He alone knows our hearts (Lk. 16:15) and can judge them righteously. 

For Jehovah searches all hearts and understands all the imaginations of the thoughts.
If you seek Him, He will be found by you.
But if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.
1Chr. 28:9