“BEULAH LAND” – Heaven’s Border

“You shall no more be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land be called Desolate any more.  But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land be called Beulah, for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married” ~ Isaiah 62:4.

“Beulah Land”

An Old Favorite Hymn from the Past:

Refrain:

“O Beulah Land sweet Beulah Land,  As on thy highest mount I stand,

I look away across the sea,  Where mansions are prepared for me,

And view the shining glory shore,  My Heav’n, my home forever more!

My Savior comes and walks with me,  And sweet communion here have we,

He gently leads me by His hand,  For this is Heaven’s border land.”

Hymn by Edgar Page Stites and John R. Sweney

The Hymn’s Beauty–

The words speak of the eternal glory prepared for believers in Christ Jesus.  Beulah Land is “Heaven’s border land,” a land where shines undimmed one blissful day.  For all my night has passed away.”

THE “BEULAH LAND” CONCEPT:

The term “Beulah Land” is unfamiliar to many people today.  This hymn is seldom sung in churches where praise songs, and contemporary Christian rock music dominate the worship experience.  This phenomenon is not peculiar to contemporary churches.  In a brief survey of hymnals, several denominations reveal that this hymn is unknown or no longer relevant in many churches today.

The Use of Biblical “Metaphors”–How God Makes Us Into Something New!

Metaphors are used throughout the Bible and the passage in Isaiah  62, is not an exception.  Now when I say “metaphor”, I don’t mean that it wasn’t real.  What I mean is that Scripture uses metaphors as a “picture language.”  It talks about our relationship with God; understanding what it means to have relationship with God is pretty difficult at times.  God uses language of our everyday lives to help us kind of get the idea.

Understanding what God makes us into, how God transforms us, and changes us.

First things first.  We need to realize what we were without God.  Isaiah 62:4, God says, “No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate.”

It seems we are dealing with a metaphor of the land.  Without God in our lives, we are like a “desolate” place.

Desolate and Barren Places

Without God, we’re EMPTY, BARREN, without the things we need in Life.

And yet, behind the words, is also the ideas of marriage.  It is the real metaphor going on here.  Without God…we’re deserted, left at the altar, left with no one who would marry us.

Now I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be single.  It all goes back to the way ancient Israelite culture was structured.  A woman who wasn’t married, had no good way in having an income on her own.  If her parents died, her brothers were dead or wouldn’t take her in, she was left without anyway to survive except to beg.  She was deserted and desolate.

Spiritually Speaking:

This concept describes our situation in life if we didn’t have JESUS.  We wouldn’t have anyway to survive spiritually without God.  We would find ourselves deserted and desolate, without the things we need in our spiritual life.

Now I’m not inferring that you, as a reader of this blog, are at this place in your life.  Yet, even when we believe in God, it doesn’t mean we never feel like we’re outside of God.  Even though we know JESUS has come into our lives, on accepting Him as Lord and Savior; and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we may feel at times deserted and desolate in our circumstances: illness, sickness, stress, anger, etc.

“NO LONGER” ARE WE FORSAKEN (verse 4):

“Hephzibah” is the Hebrew word used and it means “My delight is in her”.  And then we run across “Beulah”, which means “married”.  Remembering that God is working with the metaphor of marriage.  He uses the metaphor from that ancient Israelite culture; God is transforming you from an unmarried woman, who is desolate and deserted by society and begging for food.  And now, you are His delight–to be married to the Lord.

This is Not The Only Place in Scripture of God “Marrying His People.”

The powerful words used is in describing the relationship we have with God and will have when JESUS CHRIST is our groom and we the Church, become His Bride (Revelation 19).

JESUS comes to many of us–despite the fact that we are desolate and deserted; despite the fact we feel unlovable, despite ALL of our sins, our faults and bruises, past mistakes.  JESUS comes and says,  “My delight is in you.  You will be married to Me.”

“Something Like A Hero”–

I love the lyrics of a song by Charlotte Martin, and here are a few of the words I want you to pay attention too.  Try if you can to put yourself in the shoes of the woman in the song.

On Your Shore

I dig my heels into the dirt ’cause this one’s gonna hurt

Won’t let the wave wash me away, is what I always pray

In my heart I know you couldn’t see in the dark or find your way through me

Now I’m alone, my hands are numb how do I carry on?

And at the turn of the tide this part of me die

Am I washed on your shore and barely alive?

Here I am in my insecurity

Here I am with my damaged dignity

Here I am, you’re pulling me in too deep

Here I am

The woman in the song is feeling deserted and desolate, and even if her reasons for those feelings are different from yours, her experience is similar to ours.  There are things in our lives that make us feel deserted and desolate.  Which then makes us feel deserted by God and where we’re in a desolate place spiritually.

Here Is God’s Promise–Count on it!

“You [fill in your name] shall no more be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land [where your ‘spirit place’ is] be called Desolate any more.  But you shall be called Hephzibah  [My delight is in her], and your land be called Beulah [married]; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married [owned and protected by the Lord]”  (Isaiah 62:4 AMP).

“Crying Out to God”–

As in the Charlotte Martin’s song, crying out to God is asking Him to rescue you from a desolate beach [in the sand dunes of a desert-above photo] of “insecurity” and “damaged dignity.”

God answers that prayer through Christ Jesus:

*  Where once you would’ve been named Deserted, God calls you “Hephzibah”–my delight in you!

*  Where once you were insecure, God gives you eternal security!

*  Where once you had a damaged dignity but God gives you “dignity”, sees you so wonderful, beautiful, holy!

TRANSFORMATION takes place in you through Faith.

Without God, you were on a desolate beach with insecurity, damaged dignity all around you and living without hope.  But now, through faith and confidence in The Groom, you are Hephzibah, Beulah, the delight of God, His bride.  You are secured in the marriage.

These are the gifts He gives to you at the ‘wedding shower.’  This is how HE transforms you!

See How God Decorates His Bride:

Look again at God’s words in Isaiah, see how He pours out the blessing on you, the way He dresses you in a beautiful gown {Tuxedos for the guys) which is His blessing.

I used to have difficulties as a man understanding the Biblical terms of being the Bride of Christ.  But when I realized that the Bride of Christ is describing the character of the Church, male or female becomes  gender neutral.  So relax men, you don’t have to dress up in a wedding gown.

Verse 1:  “I will not rest until her imputed righteousness and vindication go forth in brightness, and her salvation”

The Blessings radiates as does a burning torch.”

Verse 2:  “And the nations shall see your righteousness and vindication, and all kings shall behold your salvation and glory…”

Verse 3:  “You shall also be [so beautiful and prosperous as to be thought of as] a crown of glory and honor…a Royal diadem [exceeding beautiful]…”

“HEAVEN’S BORDER”:

The idea of the Land of Beulah as “Heaven’s Border” actually comes from John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim Progress”.  Bunyan says that “the Enchanted ground is place so nigh to the land of Beulah and so near the end of their race.”

He also says the Land of Beulah is a place “where the sun shineth night and day.”  I’m sure that Mr. Bunyan must have previously been meditating on God’s Word when being inspired to write down his thoughts (Isaiah 60:11; Rev. 21:24-27).

The Future Will Be Entirely Different for God’s People–the Church.

We will not lie forsaken nor left in desolation but will be called ‘His delight’ (Hebrew Hephzibah).  When His people stop trying to exalt themselves and again lean on and trust on the Groom, He will bless them.

The Conditioning of Choice, JOY, Commitment and Covenant

Many people call MARRIAGE a ‘contract’.  But that isn’t what God has promised–but He has given the Bride a covenant promise; He makes good His Word in conveying what He clearly wants to speak into our lives every day.

The Original Covenant Blessing Upon Marriage.

Genesis 1:28 is speaking about His creation of Adam and Eve:  “And God blessed them and said to them,  Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth”.  And now God’s promise, His covenant with the Church (His Bride) is in prospering the people and their dwelling place.

ISAIAH CONTINUES THE THOUGHT OF MARRIAGE – (verse 5):

“For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

Righteous Zion is no longer barren, forsaken, or desolate but is found to be a delight to God; have spiritual sons and bear spiritual fruit.

Thus God will rejoice with great joy over the Bride, His Church at the great wedding day! 

“My delight is in You”–Hephzibah–is still true for today’s believers.  When circumstances and problems attempt to destroy HOPE, you may hear your triumphant Bridegroom whisper to you His Bride (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 21:2, 9),the new name that is for you and for you alone “The Lamb’s Wife”!

“The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say,  Come!  And let him who is listening say, Come!  And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of life without cost”  (Revelation 22:17 AMP).

Springtime Coming!

Winter Thaw

ISAIAH 58:11-12:  “And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones.  And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not.  [12] And your ancient ruins will be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of [buildings that have laid waste for] many generations; and you shall be called Repairer of the Breach, Restorer of Streets to Dwell in.”

Acts 3:19-21:  “So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord.  [20] And that He may send [to you] the Christ (the Messiah), Who before was designated and appointed for you–even Jesus.  [21] Who heaven must receive [and retain] until the time for the complete restoration of all that God spoke by the mouth of all His holy prophets for ages past [from the most ancient time in the memory of man].”

“The American Church Today is not Healthy”–

Many people have agreed with this statement and other concepts such as:  “Too many churches imitate the trends of secular society.”  One respected researcher said, “Christians in America are hardly distinguishable from unbelievers.”  And on many occasions in the past, I have agreed with the consensus.

But when I was reading the two referenced verses in Isaiah and the Book of Acts, God spoke to my heart saying, Have HOPE, for Springtime is Coming even thought it looks like Winter.  His Word reveals His plans for the spiritual restoration of the Church as we know it today.

“Springtime IS Coming”–God’s Heart for His Church and His People–

NOTICE the key words that God uses:

* rebuilding…

*…the ancient ruins

* raising up…

*…the age-old foundations

* repairing that which is broken

* refreshing

* restoring

If you have fallen into the same trap I’ve found myself in, seeking a bleak future for the Lord’s Church, I want to bring the relief I found from God’s Word in this wrong thinking.

A Heart That Has Found Optimism–A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places.

I want to fill your hearts, as mine was filled by the Holy Spirit–in what you might now be experiencing in your Christian church life.

The 7- Ways the Lord wants to guide us in:

Smith Wigglesworth once said, “The heritage of the Church is to be so equipped with (the Holy Spirit’s) power that God can lay His hand upon any member, at any time to do His perfect will.”   Now that is OPTIMISM!

1.  The Lord wants to satisfy your soul.

2.  The Lord strengthens you = ‘make fat your bones’

3.  Like a well-watered garden…

4.  Rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities…

5.  Lay foundations for future generations…

6.  A Rebuild er of walls…

7.  Restorer of homes…

Spring-water in a place where the waters of the Lord flow:

–to refresh…

–to revive…

–to restore…

–to rebuild…

To make fat your bones and strengthen you for the work ahead!

TIMES OF REFRESHING:

The verses quoted in Acts 3:19-21 clearly show God’s heart for His people and for His Church with spiritual restoration.  Notice the key words and similarities God uses in Isaiah 58 and Acts 3:

* rebuilding...the ancient ruins.

* raising up…the age-old foundations.

* repairing that which is broken.

* refreshing.

* restoring.

HEART-FELT OPTIMISM IN EMPTY PLACES:

If you have fallen into the trap in seeking a bleak future for God’s Church in our time, I want to bring the same relief I experienced from ‘wrong thinking’ in what you might be seeing–to a full life in the emptiest of places.

God intends that His people participate (that’s us!)– in His plans for our lives in rebuilding and raising up age-old foundations; repairing the things that are broken down

“Your people will rebuild…and will raise up…”  (Isaiah 58:12).

“You will be called a Repairer…Restorer (vs. 12).

If you think that the Church in materialistic America lies in ruins today, then know this–GOD intends to “rebuild the ancient ruins and …raise up the age-old foundations (vs. 12).

I believe , as perhaps I’ve never before pondered, spiritual restoration is coming to the Church today!  Let’s look together at some Biblical teaching likely to be seen in God’s time of refreshing and restoration.

–Widespread, heartfelt repentance and a hungering and thirsting for righteousness and personal holiness.

“Brethren, what shall we do?”  And Peter replied, “Repent”… (Acts 2:37-38).

“Blessed and fortunate and spiritually prosperous are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied”  (Matthew 5:6 AMP).

EXPECT TO SEE THINGS IN OUR DAY!

–A renewed, mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit!

Multitudes being baptized in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, moving mightily in God’s power.

“And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words]”  (Acts 2:4 AMP).

Don’t let the Church be robbed of this blessing.  Contrary to what some might have been told, this is for the Church today just as it was in the first century.  Jesus Christ, the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11), is “the same yesterday and today and forever.”

“Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is [always] the same, yesterday, today, [yes] and forever (to the ages)”  (Hebrews 13:8). 

EXPECT IT, BELIEVE IT, AND LOOK FOR IT!

Expect to see the manifestation of the glory of God in the Church–“To Him be glory in the church…”  (Ephesians 3:21).  Expect and believe God for dramatic manifestations and supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit which is the real sense of God’s presence in our midst.

You might be thinking right now, you just can’t believe, to grab hold of and expect that type of manifestation.  And that’s okay.  I once felt and believed in the same way.  And then one day in 2005, I was given a choice by God:  ‘Take the “Red Pill” or take the “Blue Pill” [CHOICE: I Choose “The Red Pill” –The WORD DETECTIVE blog of 05/09/11].

The early church of the Book of Acts was indeed a glorious church.  Believe along with me for the same in our day–(Habakkuk 3:2). 

The gifts of the Holy spirit are for today!   Don’t relegate them to “time has past” or only to the Pentecost recording in Acts 2.

–Anticipate a renewed hunger for the word of God, the Bible!

“Now the brethren at once sent Paul and Silas away…to Beroea…  Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble…they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message...with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so”  (Acts 17:10-11).

In the remarkable charismatic move peaking in the 1970s, millions of young people carried their Bibles with them–to church, to coffeehouses (no Starbucks back then), wherever they went.  They joined Bible studies, many attended Bible schools and they hungered and thirsted for God’s Word.

I expect to see in our current day a restoration, a spiritual hunger renewed for God’s holy word among the youth, the elderly, in every segment of society.  Expect a new generation of “Bereans”, ‘receiving the word with ALL readiness of mind and searching the Scriptures daily.’

A Generation Rising

VISUALIZE A GENERATION ARISING:

Colossians 1:18 says in the NIV translation, “…so in everything He might have the supremacy”.

Picture a nation where JESUS is honored and His name is heard in reverence rather than in cursing and the Church bought by His blood is once again the most influential institution [“organism”, not “organization”] in the land.  “Organism” is a living and breathing thing, where as an “organization” is an “arrangement”; make-up“; “texture”.   These things have happened in time past.  Can you and I believe God to see these transpire once again in the land, our communities?

Expect to See…

Widespread acceptance of, and many moving into the full “fivefold” ministry, as well as biblically qualified elders and deacon.  God has prepared His people:

“And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.  His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church)”  (Ephesians 4:11-12 AMP).

The Church has been handicapped for too long in rejection of contemporary apostles and prophets.  I know this personally, since this is what I had been taught by well-meaning men and had accepted the information given as fact rather than the Berean Approach: “searching and examining the Scriptures”.

It will take all five of the listed ministries to “prepare God’s people for works of service” He desires that we do.  Now are there false apostles and prophets today?  Certainly.  There were such in the early church.  But don’t let that discourage you from embracing ALL these needed ministries JESUS placed in His church and the duration of the Church Age!

ANTICIPATE A RESTORATION OF TOTALLY “SELLING OUT” TO THE LORD:

[Peter to Jesus] “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee, what shall we have therefore?”  (Matthew 19:27 KJV).

“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”  (Acts 2:42 NAS).

“Revolutionaries”

Christian researchers today–George Barna–in seeing the emergence of a growing body of Christian believers, compared to the complacent with the tabbed “revolutionaries”– who are no more satisfied with the “status quo”; they want A Full Life in Christ.  They have a passion for JESUS; a determination to serve Him fully, no matter the cost.

May a renewed passion for the Lord sweep through ALL our hearts and across this land–our cities, our communities, our churches.

AS IN THE TEMPLE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT:

May it be said of the New Testament “temple” (that is, the church), that “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former…” ~ Haggai 2:9.

Be looking for; be on watch for; expect the spiritual restoration of bringing the Church of our day back to even surpassing the glory we read of in the first century church.  Springtime is coming!  Let this be our prayer:

“O Lord, I have heard the report of You and was afraid, O Lord,

revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst

of the years make [Yourself ] known!”

~Habakkuk 3:2~

A Momentary Spark in the Shadows of Darkness

[10]  Who is among you who [reverently] fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, YET WHO WALKS IN DARKNESS and deep trouble and has no shinning splendor [in his heart]?  Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let him lean upon and be supported by his God.

[11]  Behold, all you [enemies of your own selves] who attempt to kindle your own fires [and work out you own plans of salvation], who surround and gird yourselves (surround yourselves with a belt) with momentary sparks, darts, and firebrands that you set aflame!–walk by the light of your self-made fire and of the sparks that you have kindled [for yourself, if you will]!  But this shall you have from My hand: you shall lie down in grief and in torment.

~ISAIAH 50:10-11 AMPLIFIED BIBLE.

Surrounded by momentary sparks!

Making Scripture PERSONAL!

The Lord obviously wanted me to receive and understand His message in the above verses in The Book of IsaiahWhat do I mean by “personal”?  That’s when a Scripture verse, written to the WORLD, suddenly becomes MINE (or in your case, YOURS).

I recognized that the Holy Spirit had something specifically He wanted communicated.  I roughly understood what the verse meant!  As Mrs. Charles E. Cowman said in one of her books,  “It means we are in darkness” (in relation to some situation we do not understand) “and the temptation is to find a way without trusting in the Lord and relying on Him!”  Instead of waiting on the Lord’s plans, we try to figure it out ourselves.

Serving God in the Midst of Darkness–

There are times in our lives that we find it difficult to see very far ahead.  I remember one time driving home from a retreat with my wife in the local mountains near us.  We had a late supper out and on the way home, the headlights of the car went out.  I couldn’t see a thing!

Doing what men usually do in such circumstances, I pulled the car over to the side of the road.  I then raised the hood of the car, pretending I know what I was doing, then proceeded to tell my wife with all wisdom and understanding: “It’s just an electrical short that had caused the headlights to fail.”  Of course after forty plus years of marriage, Dianne knew I had no idea what the problem was–but kept from making her response, making the situation worse.

Going Ahead in the Pitch of Night!

I decided I couldn’t wait there along side of the road all  night and pulled out into the night.  Dianne’s reaction to my fool-hearty decision was, “You can’t drive home in the darkness without light!”  And of course I had anticipated her question in advance and blurted out, “At least the parking lights are working!” 

As I drove down the dark mountain highway, the Lord whispered in my ear “Mel, try turning the knob on the dashboard back and forth,” or something to that effect.  I did so and guess what?  Yep, the headlight’s ‘dimmer switch’ or whatever you call it had been inadvertently been turned off(who did that?).  We got home finally, but with all the car’s lights working.

Dianne asked me a question after we pulled into the garage:  “Would you have driven all the way home in the darkness without any lights?”  And my definitive answer…”We would have been just fine, regardless.  We were in God’s hands and protection.  My answer sounded convincing.

Our DESIRES Can Sometimes Be Confusing–

Are you experiencing a dark time in your life?  Do you have a wayward child?  Have you experienced financial reversal?  Has someone broken your heart or taken advantage of you?  Are you not able to make sense of what’s happening in your life?

As Christians, we DESIRE to be “overcomers”.  We DESIRE to go to heaven but rather mot die to get there.  In its very substance, LIFE is tragic without JESUS CHRIST in our lives.

Questions We Asked Ourselves In Life–

Life as we know it is filled with “sweetness” and misery; high times and hard times.  As Christians, we desire to be “overcomers” but don’t want much to overcome.

–Do you have a wayward child?

–Have you experienced financial reversal?

–Has someone broken your heart or taken advantage of you?

–Are you not able to make sense of what’s happening in your life?

Thinking We’ve Got It All Figured Out!

We’ve studied our lessons, learned our formulas and memorized the promises of God’s Word.  We think that we’ve got it all figured out and suddenly…we are plunged into a deep, deep darkness.  Why does such darkness come to a Christian?

The question we ask more than any other is “Why?”  WHY did God allow sickness to come to me or a loved one?  WHY did God heal that person and not heal me?  WHY?  WHY?  WHY?

What Do We Do When the Lights Go Out?

When we went to school, we received lesson first, then learned the lessons second.  “Premature Deliverance”…from a situation is when man frustrates God’s work of grace in our lives rather than committing the whole situation to Him; willing to abide in darkness, so long as you have His presence.   REMEMBER, “it is better to walk in the dark with God than walk alone in the light” (Mrs. Cowman).  And that’s what it means.  Often, we have prayed prayers and don’t understand at all what happened.  When in fact, God actually has ANSWERED those PRAYERS. 

PRAYERS like, “Oh God, use me”, or “Increase my faith Lord”, and “Thy will be done”.  And of course, He does have a will for your life, as He has for all of our lives.  But His will is likely to go in directions we never anticipated; areas we never ever thought about or desired.  He will answer those prayers, and all to often we haven’t understood His answers.  This is all consistent with His Word:  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).

GOD has directions and plans completely outside-you and that’s the point!  It’s not about you and I.  When He answers those prayers of ours, He begins preparing us for the life and work ahead.  Be abundantly clear here, the work is His and not yours!

THE DEEPEST DARKNESS (ISAIAH 50:10):

This passage of Scripture is not talking about someone who has wandered away from God.  This person fears and loves the Lord: Who is among you who fears the Lord…”

This verse is addressing the person or persons who fears and loves the Lord.  “Fear of the Lord”  MEANS, “love on its knees”.  The person who FEARS God the most–loves God the most.  This person OBEYS God’s voice (v. 10).

There is a distortion of the truth today when a person becomes a Christian–everything becomes like honey and no bees; all sunlight and roses with no rain and weeds.  There is no reason to deny it.

Tens of thousands of Christians across the world fear and love the Lord, yet are experiencing darkness.  More than 150,000 Christians were martyred last year all over the world.

Job said, “Even young children despise me; when I get up, they speak against me” (Job 19:18).

Habakkuk shouted,   “Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help and You will not hear?  Or cry out to You of violence and You will not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2).

John the Baptist sent messengers from prison and asked JESUS,  “Are you really the Messiah or should we look for another.”

Each one of these men of God came to a “lights out” time on a ‘dark road’ in life and didn’t understand or comprehend why and what was fully happening to them.

FAITH BORN IN THE LIGHT IS OFTEN DEVELOPED IN THE SHADOWS:

Someone once said that FAITH is like film:  “It’s better developed in the darkness.”

QUESTION:  When have you grown the most spiritually in your life?  When Mr  Trouble comes and knocks at your front door–becoming more mature in the spirit becomes better developed than other times.

So, How Does God Develop Our FAITH In The Darkness?

God says in Isaiah’s passage, it takes two steps:  We are to look to the Lord first—“trust in the Lord” (verse 10).  The Amplified translation uses, “rely on,” “trust in,” “be confident in”.  I like what Warren Wiersbe said, “We live by promises, not by explanations.”

Just because it doesn’t make sense to us at the time, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense to our Heavenly Father.  We must continue to stand on God’s Word, regardless of what’s going on in our lives.  GOD’S WORD never changes and remains constant in ALL of the seasons of life.

The Second Step:

Lean upon the Lord–“let him lean and be supported by his God.”

When you find yourself in the dark and along side a lonely isolated road, you don’t need an explanation–you need God!  It is more important to be with God in a valley of darkness than to be on a mountain peak in sunlight without Him.

There are some things that I want in life that I don’t need, and some things I need that I don’t want.  Only GOD can really discern between bad and good–good and best.  God wants to develop our FAITH; never to doubt in the dark what you have learned in the light.  The TEST OF OUR CHARACTER is not what we do in a worship service but what we do in the dark.

FAITH’S DANGER:

It is better to be serving GOD in the darkness than to be standing alone in “man-made” light (Isaiah 50:11).

One of the most dangerous temptations is to be tempted to light our own fire in the darkness.  If God has permitted the darkness, then we must wait upon the Lord.  We must never get the idea that darkness can overcome light; darkness will run from light.

If you don’t believe this is the truth, then turn on the light in a darkened room and open the closet.  You will find darkness is hiding in the closet!  The only way that DARKNESS can enter is that the light be removed.

So, if the LIGHT has been removed from the situations of your life, then God in His wisdom has allowed you to be in the darkness.  If God is the One who has allowed darkness to come your way, don’t be foolish and light your own fire.  Don’t try to undue what God is already doing.

A man-made fire is deceptive.  It’s like a man getting up in the middle of the night, hearing a disturbance in the house and grabbing a flashlight beside his bed.  And with his flashlight, he goes over to the sundial to see what time it is.

God says that if we light our own fire–[work out our own plans AMP] in the midst of God-planed darkness, then we will suffer.  For an example, God told Abraham and Sarah they would have a child of their own–God gave them a promise.  However, God didn’t fulfill that promise immediatelyAbraham, in the middle of his darkness of doubt, created his own fire with Hagar.  Ishmael was born.  Think about the suffering that followed Abraham and the world because he did not wait on God in the midst of darkness.

IF YOUR SUN HAS SET, IT WILL RISE AGAIN:

Faith’s Daybreak–Psalm 30:5

“For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime or in His favor is life.  Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning.”

Psalm 30:5

“[The Servant of God says]  The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.  He wakens Me morning by morning.  He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]”  (Isaiah 50:4 AMP).

“Come And Light My Fire Jesus”–

God will awaken us in the morning, even though you may be in the dark shadows now, there’s a better day coming!  If you are in darkness, then TRUST GOD, and He will turn every tear into a pearl, every hurt into a hallelujah.

There is a better day coming.

For non-Christians, this is as GOOD as it gets.  And as Christians, this is as BAD as it gets!

A PERSONAL CHALLENGE TO TAKE:

Take a walk and enjoy the warmth of a sunny day.  And while you are lifting your face, enjoying the warmth of the rays, the sun-rays of sunlight are already 8.3 minutes old when they reach you.  Even though you can experience the warmth of the sun, you’ve never seen the full power of the sun.  You have felt its warmth but never really seen the sun.

In a like manner, we can feel the warmth of God’s presence, but we’ve never fully seen the glory of God.  But there is a time coming as a child of God, that we will see the face of JESUS.  We will fully see what we slightly experienced in this life.  Just remember when the lights go out, GOD is still there in the midst of your darkness.

There Are Treasures Of Darkness–

Have you ever heard someone say, “The stars are out tonight”?  The fact is, stars are out in the daytime, but we can’t see them because of the sunlight.

The stars are there for us to praise the Lord (Psalm 148:3).  We would never have a star to praise the Lord without darkness.  GOD wants to give you a star so you can praise Him even more.  Our trials become stars in order to praise the Lord in the light that He gives us.

So, when the lights go out…reflect on our faith’s devotion, development, discernment, danger, and daybreak (Light),  in the POWER of the Holy Spirit’s fire.

COMFORT: “Sometimes, We Just Need SOMEONE…With Skin On Them!”

“No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son,

or the only begotten God.  Who

is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has

declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where

He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He

has made Him known].”

~John 1:18 AMPLIFIED Bible~

The INVISIBLE Made VISIBLE

“I just needed someone to COMFORT ME with skin on them.”

LOCKED IN A PRISON:

When I was a kid growing up in San Diego, California, I remember the times going with my parents to my grandparents house in San Bernardino.  They lived in an old stucco house with a red-tiled roof my granddad built-in the late 1920’s.

Although my grandparents never had many restrictions for their grandchildren, one no-no was repeated every time we visited, “Never, ever, lock the only bathroom door in the house!”  It was an old black-iron key locked door with the key hung on the inside door handle by a white shoestring.  My Mom would tell me that the key was so old, that it never really worked properly and that was the reason for the ‘house rule.’

The Bathroom Door Key

Now being a young boy, saying that you can’t do something, was like seeing a sign on the front porch that read, DON’T TOUCH–WET PAINT!you just got to touch it.  So one day, being a typically bored little boy, I decided to take a bath in the afternoon and as you’ve probably guessed already...I locked the door behind me.

After spending hours in the tub, and the water became lukewarm, I finally got out and dried off; then put my clothes back on to go outside and play.

It was now time to leave.  But to my horror, I discovered I couldn’t unlock the door.  I panicked!  I felt like a three-year old, thinking…“I might spend the rest of my life in this bathroom.”

My parents–and likely my grandparent’s neighbors–heard my screams of desperation for help.  “Are you okay?”  my Mom shouted through the locked door.  “Did you fall in the tub?”  “I cant’s unlock the door” I shouted back.  “Get me out of here!”

Now what I wasn’t aware of right then, my Dad had gone out to the garage and grabbed a step-ladder off a hook, put it against the bathroom’s outside window and pried the window away from the frame.  He then pulled my young frame through the window to the outside and out of my prison.  “Thanks Dad!” and then ran off to play.

Many of us think that’s how the Christian life is supposed to work.

We get into a tight space in life and we do all that we can to free ourselves.  But we can’t free ourselves, so we pray– then God will show up.  He hears our cry–“GET ME OUT OF HERE!  I want to play.”–and unlocks the door to the blessings we desire.

The TRUTH is that God sometimes does unlock the door for us.  But more often than not, the Christian life doesn’t work that way.  We find ourselves in some kind of ‘JAM’–WE CRY OUT TO GOD to open the door for us–but nothing happens.

That brings us to our study and my investigation into the verses of Scripture which starts out with these words:

“COMFORT, COMFORT My people, says your God

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and proclaim her

that her hard service has been completed,

that her sin has been paid for,

that she has received from the LORD’S hand

double for all her sins.”

~ Isaiah 40:1-2 (NIV)~

COMFORT IS…

Before moving on, I decided to investigate the meaning, the definition behind the word COMFORT:

Roget’s Thesaurus in Dictionary Form:  comfort, v. calm, soothe, stroke, untroubled (CALMNESS, UNANXIETY); condole with, console, solace (RELIEF, PITY).

The Hebrew word: “comfort” = n~j~n@, (nj~n); be sorry, repent, be comforted.

The Hebrew verb, “COMFORT” is also a command.  Here in Isaiah 40:1, God is giving a command to someone and the experience of comfort is dependent on obedience to this command.  Also, the verb COMFORT, is a second person plural, which means it is addressed to more than one person.  In good old Texas style, it means “y’all comfort.”  God is the speaker, addressing the prophets (plural), the heralds and ministers of the Word.

So…”the original root seems to reflect the idea of ‘breathing deeply,‘ the physical display of one’s feelings, usually sorrow, compassion, or COMFORT.”  Just maybe, its like when someone takes a deep sigh of relief... while at the same time is experiencing God’s COMFORT.

The same root-word is used in Psalm 23:4:  “Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they will comfort me”–‘breathing deeply, sighing.’

THE PURPOSE OF COMFORT:

–People need encouragement!

–People need the Lord!

–People need to know the COMFORT of God!

I love when I come upon the word “but” in Scripture.  In English, the word becomes a “conjunction junction” (Grammar-Rock TV series–1975). “It is used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned.”  So here comes the “but.”

“BUT”…the encouragement of Scripture is not simply designed to make us feel better or remove our pain.  God loves us and He cares about our pain.  “BUT”…His COMFORT is ALWAYS designed to lift us out of the muck of discouragement.  So that we might have the wisdom, the vision to grasp the purposes of God along with strength to run the race that the Lord has put before us (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Isaiah 40:29-31:

[29] “He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might  He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound].

[30] “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted;

[31] “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.”

THE BIBLICAL “PRINCIPLE” OF COMFORT:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity, mercy) and the God [Who is the source] of every [ALL] comfort (consolation and encouragement),    Who comforts us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”  (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 AMP).

The GOD of EVERY [ALL] Comfort–

What that means is, that the apostle  is completely sufficient and adequate in the experience of life.  In fact, GOD’S WORD fills us with indications of the sufficiency of God for us too.

The “Three Comforters” mentioned in the New Testament.

1.  The New Testament tells us that we have the Holy Spirit, given to us by Christ; the Divine Comforter who lives with us [indwells us] forever (John 14:16-17).

2.  Then we have the Lord Jesus as a comforter/advocate, as He acts as our High Priest and makes intercession for us in Heaven (1 John 2:1-2)So we have a COMFORTER on earth; we have a COMFORTER in Heaven at the right hand side of the Father. 

3.  So, the FATHER is our comforter, the Son is our comforter and the Holy Spirit is our comforter; we have two in Heaven and one with us on earth.

So believe me, WE HAVE COMFORT AVAILABLE!  We are surrounded by COMFORT!!

“BUT I NEED SOMEONE…WHO HAS SKIN ON THEM TO COMFORT ME RIGHT NOW”:

The apostle Paul gives us the answer to that question in 2 Corinthians 1:4:

“…so that we may also be able to comfort those who are in any kind

of trouble or distress, with comfort with which

we ourselves are comforted by God.”

GOD comforts us in ALL our afflictions, not just ‘some’ of our afflictions.  In order that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction: illness, sickness, ailment, malady, complaint (DISEASE), pain, trouble, hardship, curse, (MISFORTUNE).  Have you gone through and experienced affliction?  Of course you have and it was never by “happenstance.”  God has a reason for everything!

A Mother’s Words of Comfort–“I have traveled down the same road.”

I was reading a little devotional commentary that is true to the Word of God.  Dr. George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas for 50 years, told the following story of a young, unbelieving couple in a sermon.

The young couple, who had just lost their baby, came to Dr. Truett, asking him to conduct the funeral, so he did.  He said later he had the JOY of seeing them both trust the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many months later, he said, the young mother who had lost her child stepped forward, went to a young girl’s side and said,  “I passed through this and I know what you’re passing through.  God called me and through the darkness I came to Him.  He’s comforted me, and He’ll comfort you.”

Dr. Truett said the first mother did more for the second mother than I could have done, maybe in days or months.  For the first young mother had traveled down the same road of suffering.

That is what Paul is talking about in the experiences of life that are designed to fit us; through our personalities, in helping others who are having the same experiences in life.

Now we don’t understand, fully the reasons why there is so much suffering going on in the world around us.  But…one reason–not the least notable reason is that there may be common comfort that goes on in the believers in Christ Jesus.  We are BLESSED to be a BLESSING in this world; perhaps we are COMFORTED to be a COMFORT to others.

 

“We’re All Children Of God” IS A LIE!

John 8:38:

“I tell the things which I have seen and learned at My Father’s side, and your actions also reflect what you have heard and learned from your father.”

The Thinking of Almost Everyone Today–Thinks They Are a Child of God.

It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a Hindu, Buddhist, animist, new age or Christian or none of the above.  Almost everyone seems to hold the belief we are all children of God.

Bit is it TRUE?  Have you ever wondered who the REAL CHILDREN of God are?  Does God possibly have anything to say about it?

THE WORDS OF CHRIST JESUS AND THEIR MEANING:

The words spoken in John 8:38 were the words spoken of JESUS to those who surrounded Him with piercing and angry eyes and cruel tongues.

Our Lord and Savior declared that He had been with His Father before He spoke with the religious Jews around about Him.  And, He had been, for He was with the Father before the worlds were formed.  He saw all that the Father did and He helped in doing it–“without Him was not anything made that was made.”  He was the Father’s eternal delight!

Implication Of The Relationship of father and son among men.

JESUS says that one exists before the other but it’s not implied of the relationship between Father and Son.  It is a great mystery in explanation, in the terms FATHER and SON.  The nearest similarity that can be given in our poor understanding of the relationship existing between them.  And yet is the Father eternal and the Son eternal–the Son coequal and co-eternal with the Father.

Though JESUS is…unto us the Child born and the Son given, YET He is equally “the Everlasting Father,” who was and is and ever shall be One with the eternal God!

THE FALSE DOCTRINE OF “UNIVERSAL FATHERHOOD”:

The 2 or 3 things that stand out in the John 8:38 passage that point out “Universal Fatherhood” is A LIE:

“I tell the things which I have seen and learned at My Father’s side…”

Then there are two fathers; there are two sets of children–there is a Father who Jesus calls, “My Father”–and there is another father who He calls in speaking to the Jews who hated Him– “your father.”

The prayers beginning, “Our Father, Who is in heaven,” never meant to be used by every body.  In the mouths of the ungodly, it’s out-of-place.  God is not their Father.  “You must be born again” before coming the children of God.

The Scripture statement is clear: 

[12]  “But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name–“

[13]  “Who owe their birth neither to bloods nor to the will of the flesh [that physical impulse] nor to the will of man [that of a natural father], but to God.  [They are born of God]”  (John 1:12, 13 AMP).

RECEIVING CHRIST–

An evangelist was trying to help a woman understand John 1:12; what it means to receive Christ:

“Your last name is Wilson, isn’t it?”  he asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“How long has it been that?”

“Ever since my husband and I were married 30 years ago.”

“Tell me,” he said, “how did you become Mrs. Wilson?”

She paused.  “It was at the wedding.  The minister asked me, ‘Will you have this man to be your lawful, wedded husband?’  and I said, “I will‘.  With those words I became his wife.”

“Didn’t you say, ‘I hope so,’ or I’ll try to take him as my husband?”  asked the evangelist.

“No,” replied the woman.  “I said, ‘I will and I did.’  That’s all there was to it.”

The evangelist explained that God wanted her to receive Christ Jesus as her Savior in the same way.  She saw the point made and stated, “HOW SIMPLE!”  Wondering why she hadn’t said “I will” long before.

All of us are ALL Children of God”–

I’ve heard this statement from a minister in religious garb,  in a TV political ad supporting Gay Marriage on the Washington State ballot this November.  I have heard the same view many times before:  “well…ya know…I mean……after all…no matter who we are and where we come from…when its all said and done…we are ALL God’s children.” 

I’m not sure where these statements originate from…but it has no Biblical basis in fact.

The Gospel of John–

One of my favorite verses in the ‘Renewed Covenant’ is found in the 1st Chapter:

“There it was–the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illuminates every person”  (John 1:9 AMP).

THE “TRUE CHILDREN OF GOD” HAVE, THE NATURE OF THEIR FATHER:

We re not full-grown yet, some of us are tiny babies.  It’s not always easy to detect the Father’s likeness in His infants.  That likeness comes out as the child grows up and as the man appears.

The similarities between father and son can be striking at times and it could be hardly traced when the boy was little.  It is the same scenario with us in our relationship with our heavenly Father.

The Spirit of God, in Regeneration.

Man/Women has only body and soul when entering this world; until this miracle is worked, but then when born-gain–they become body, soul and spirit–rising into a higher sphere, entering into another world which he could not enter before.

I like this passage of Scripture in 1 Corinthians:

“But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated”  (1 Corinthians 2:14 AMP).

“The first man Adam, was made a living soul” and we are made in his likeness.  “The last Adam was made a quickening Spirit” and when we are born again, we receive His likeness; we participate in the quickening and rise into the Nature and Image of God.

True Children Imitate Their Father–

“THEREFORE BE imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]”  (Ephesians 5:1 AMP).

It curious to see how children will imitate their parents.  I remember when our daughters were little girls and they would go into their moms closet, pull out her high-heeled shoes and model them in front of us.  They seemed to feel so grown-up and be like mom.

I remember having 4- cords of wood stacked in front of our house and then spend hours, days stacking the cut wood along side the property line.  And then to my surprise, my son Kevin came up to me with an arm full of cut fir and asked, Dad…where do you want this wood stacked.  In his own young way, he was helping and imitating his dad in chores.

It’s a habit of children to imitate–they can’t help it.  So, if we are the children of God, if we dwell with God, the instinct of imitation manifest itself.  We try doing those deeds of kindness and love, acts of righteousness which God is doing!

And it will be said of us:  “You do that which you have seen with your father.”

THE DEVIL’S FAMILY SHARES IN THE DEVIL’S NATURE:

The “gloomy” side of the story.

The devil’s family members are sure to speak that which they have seen and heard their father, too.  For instance, there are some people who speak in opposition to most Christian beliefs.  They cannot stand them–never a good word spoken and denounce their motives.

Now, I don’t wonder or speculate why the say and do the things they do and say because their father did the same long time ago.  I loved the line in the 1994 movie, Forrest Gump:  Stupid is as stupid does.  If ones father practiced stupidity, then it only comes to reason their children would copy their stupidity.  One of Satan’s names is “the accuser of the brethren.”

Did the devil ever have a good word for our Father?  NO!  Then he will never have a good word for His children.  Charles Spurgeon once said, “The highest compliment the devil can pay to virtue, is to hate it.”

The Devil’s Children Frequently Speak In Untruths.

UNTRUTH in speaking becomes…“white lies” and becomes tolerable in society.  Do you know who was a liar from the beginning?–the father of lies–and they who cannot or will not speak the Truth of God.  Children of that ancient liar–they will have to go home to their father one day.  They are not the children of God, for God’s children should hate a lie!  When their word is once given, they will stand to it, even if it hurts.

When you are not TRUE, you’ve not been with the great Father of Truth; you must have learned the “half-truths” from the great father of lies.

A “NATURE TO BE CHANGED” IS NEEDED IN TODAY’S WORLD:

It is of little use for you to try to change your outward character or someone else:

–language,

–attitudes,

–rebellion.

–self-will and so forth.

What you need is for your NATURE or theirs, to be changed.  “When the fountain is made sweet, the streams will be sweet” ~ Charles Spurgeon.  In other words, Mr. Spurgeon is saying that what comes out of it will still be impure.

You must be born again!

Believe in Christ and you are born again!

“[1]  NOW THERE was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler ( a leader, an authority) among the Jews,  [2] Who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know and are certain that You have come from God [as] a Teacher; for no one can do these signs (these wonderworks, these miracles–and produce the proofs) that You do unless God is with him.  [3]  Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God”  (John 3:1-3 AMP).

JESUS continues the conversation with Nicodemus and we pick up His emphasis in verse 6:

“What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

The ACT OF FAITH indicates that the new birth has taken place; from spiritual death to spiritual life; a new creature in Christ Jesus.  The moment that God gives you the Grace to TRUST yourself with Christ, He also has renewed you nature!

When you believe and trust in the Lord Jesus, you become a new person in Christ; a child of God.  That is THE TRUTH!  Anything else is a LIE!!

If you are then a child of the King, go out and tell all what you have seen and heard while in the presence with your Father.  I’m proud to be a Child of God–how about you?

“I ‘m A Child of the King”

by Bill and Gloria Gaither

CHORUS:

Oh, yes, oh yes, I’m a child of the King

His royal blood now flows in my veins.

And I who was wretched and poor now can sing

Praise God, praise God, I’m a child of the King.

Do We Actually “Trust In God” or Do We Just Say We Do? – [PART 2]

Do We Really TRUST?

PART TWO–Walking In The Divine Path or The Aimless Way:

In Part One, we saw illustrations given by the prophet Isaiah regarding 4- contrasts of  TRUST IN GOD:

1.  Between inhabiting the holy city  and “lofty” ruins (Isaiah 26:1-6).

2.  Between walking the divine path and the aimless way.

3.  Between working with supernatural ability and human inability.

4.  Between rising to eternal life and to judgement.

In PART TWO, I’ll pick up the conversation where I left off in Walking In the Divine Path or The Aimless Way.

“[7]  The way of the [consistently] righteous (those living in moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relationship of their lives) is level and straight; You, O [Lord],  Who are upright, direct aright and make level the path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous.  [8] Yes, in the path of Your judgements, O Lord, we wait [expectantly] for You; our heartfelt desire is for Your name and for the remembrance of You.  [9] My soul yearns for You [O Lord] in the night, yes, my spirit within me seeks You earnestly; for [only] when Your judgments are in the earth will the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God).  [10] Though favor is shown to the wicked, yet, they do not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness they deal perversely and refuse to see the majesty of the Lord.  [11] Though Your hand is lifted high to strike, Lord, they do not see it.  Let them see Your zeal for Your people and be ashamed; yes, let the fire reserved for Your enemies consume them”  (Isaiah 26:7-11 AMP).

Look at verse 7, where it tells us that the way or path of righteousness is level and straight.  Then Isaiah calls God “You, O [Lord], Who are upright.”

The NIV translation of the same verse is a bit different in wording: “O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth”; this is actually the same word but because Hebrew and English phrasing are different.  The idea here is, God’s path is level because God is level; God’s path is straight because God is straight; God’s path is righteous…you get the picture.  In other words, we walk in God’s path by imitating the character of God.  Now I don’t think Isaiah is telling us God’s path is a stroll in the park, but he is saying that the path is easy to find.

–God Repeatedly Reveals His Character To Us.

First, He reveals His character via His WordSecondly, He reveals Himself through the incarnation of Jesus.  And thirdly, He reveals Himself via other Christians around us.  All God is asking us is to imitate Him!

–Every single command God has given us.

His commands are a reflection of some aspect of who He is.  Imitating God may not be easy, but the requirements are clear!  By contrast, the way of the world is aimless and…clueless.

Character Reflection

–Isaiah Gives Us Three Pictures of People Who Refuse to Follow God:

FIRST PICTURE given in verse 10–The Message Bible.

“If the wicked are shown grace, they don’t seem to get it”

SECOND PICTURE in verse 10 (b)–The Message Bible.

“In the land of right living, they persisted in wrong living, blind to the splendor of God”

THIRD PICTURE in verse 11–The Message Bible.

“You hold your hand up high God, but they don’t see it.”

Even though the proof of Jesus’ death and resurrection is evident, people are still refusing to come to terms with God.  The apostle Paul says the same thing in Romans 1:18-32.  People who you come in contact with daily know the righteous acts of God; they can see the divine path out in front of them but they willfully refuse to walk in it; then encourage others not to walk in it either.  They choose to walk the aimless way.  Which path are you walking?

THE THIRD CONTRAST: WORKING WITH SUPERNATURAL (divine) ABILITY or HUMAN INABILITY–

[READ Verses 12-18]

Everything that we accomplish in our lives has been done by God working in us.

City Bible Church-North Sound isn’t located here in Lynden, Washington because a small group of Christian believers established it.  God established His Church.  God used (names) to build this church, working through them, gifting them with talents and abilities.  And if this church continues to grow in number, it’s because God will continue to do His work in this place.  For that reason only, God’s name is honored!

–Our Power or God’s Power.

Are we as a church, in the 21st century working in our power, or relying, trusting in God’s power?  Are we as a church just ‘doing’ and our efforts are cast into the wind?   By contrast, Isaiah tells us what happens when we work in our own ability:

[17] As a woman with child drawing near the time of her delivery is in pain and writhes and cries out in her pangs, so we have been before You (at Your presence), O Lord.  [18] We have been with child, we have been writhing and in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth [only] wind.  We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not yet been born”  (Isaiah 26:17-18 AMP).

–Giving Birth!

Isaiah is using the images of a woman giving birth and describing that it takes a lot of effort.  For nine months the child is growing inside the womb and after nine months, the day finally arrives.  Oh, how I remember those joyful days so long ago.  They will always be permanently imprinted on my mind.  The thrill, the joy of being a father, WOW!

Now husbands might think they understand what their wives are going through or went at the time, but not really–right ladies?  I once heard a woman describe what her childbirth experience was like: ‘Taking my upper lip and pull it over my head.” 

Seriously, this image of a woman struggling to give birth in verses 17-18 is the strongest image Isaiah could come up with.  But nothing comes of all that labor.  Imagine after going through labor ladies, this doctor tells you that you didn’t give birth to a baby–it was just gas!

That’s what Isaiah is trying to get across here.  When we work in our own strength we achieve nothing.  Even if we men were to work as hard as a woman giving birth (and that will never happen), our work accomplishes nothing.

3-Questions For The Church:

1.  Are we as a church in God’s supernatural ability or our own inability?

2.  Are ALL the programs we come up with and are doing just programs, making a ‘big splash’ for all to see, taking a lot of effort but accomplishing little?

3.  Are we laboring in God’s strength in accomplishing His plan for eternal salvation?

THE LAST CONTRAST IN ISAIAH 26:19-21:

[19]  Your dead shall live [O Lord]; the bodies of our dead [saints] shall rise.  You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!  For Your dew [O Lord] is a dew of [sparkling] light [heavenly, supernatural dew]; and the earth shall cast forth the dead [to life again; for on the land of the shades of the dead You will let Your dew fall].  [20] Come, my people, enter your chambers and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the [Lord’s] wrath is past.  [21] For behold, the Lord is coming out of His place [heaven] to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also will disclose the blood shed upon her and will no longer cover her slain and conceal her guilt.”

–“Shut the Front Door”!

ISAIAH draws up on the blackboard for us the instructions for this last contrast:  Between the eternal destination of the righteous and the wicked.

God’s people will rise to eternal life in the middle of ‘shouts for joy’; to share in the festivities of God’s final triumph on earth.  The wicked; the lost souls, will rise to eternal punishment.

The previous three contrast:  Inhabiting the city of salvation vs. the lofty ruins;  Walking the divine path vs. wandering the aimless way;  Working in God’s strength vs. working in our own inability–all are choices we have to make.

Grabbing the Door

–ONE WAY, AND ONLY ONE!

In my investigation regarding “TRUST IN GOD” this past week, I uncovered an old children’s song “One Door and only one”.  It goes like this:

One door and only one

And yet its sides are two.

Inside and outside

On which side are you.

I’ll go on with more of the songs lyrics that fits in nicely with the choices that must be made, sooner than later:

One Door and Only One

And yet its sides are two

I’m on the inside

On which side are you?

One Lord and only one

And yet the ways are two,

Right way and wrong way

On which way are you?

And if the contrasts in the song are not enough to convince you by now, let me give you just a few more choices:

One strength and only one,

yet the works are two.

His strength or our strength,

which strength are you?

One eternity, and only one,

yet the results are two.

Eternal life with God or

eternal separation from God,

WHICH RESULT WILL BE YOURS?

Do We Actually “Trust In God” or Do We Just Say We Do? [2-PART SERIES]

“IN GOD WE TRUST” –[PART ONE IN THIS SERIES]:

If you were to take out a United States coin or bill out of your pocket, you would find somewhere on the currency the phrase, “IN GOD WE TRUST”.

This motto was adopted by Congress during our civil war, being confirmed by acts of Congress and by various courts.  But in recent years there have been various groups who have challenged this motto, being a violation of separation of church and state.  To date such efforts have failed–so far.

Replacement Suggestions:

There have been some interesting suggestions offered up and I will share two of them with you.  The first example that I found was, “Peace be the Journey.”  The writer gives this reason for adopting such a phrase:  “What this country needs is PEACE, and “In God We Trust” supports religion–something that proliferates war and hostility both domestically and internationally–is far from the want of peace.”  What she lacks in understanding is what Christianity really declares–namely PEACE.

“In Sex, drugs and rock & roll we trust” was another suggestion.  Although I think that their idea was displaying sarcasm, their reasoning was as such:  “We feel that this motto more accurately reflects both the values and the attitude of most Americans than “In God We Trust,” and that it contains at least one component that almost every American can identify with.”

The Basic Reason People Want The National Motto Changed Is…

Our current motto never represented ALL the citizens of the United States of America.  And I agree.  To say that every U.S. citizen trusted exclusively in God–or that the U.S. government has trusted God exclusively is absurd!  God is not nearly concerned about whether we say trust in God nearly as much as whether we actually trust in God.

THE UNDERLYING THEME IN THE FIRST HALF OF ISAIAH 26:

A.  TRUSTING IN GOD–

The Israelites claim they trusted in God–to a certain degree, they did.  But at the same time, they also trusted in Baal, Molech, Ashtera, and other gods. 

–They trusted God but… they also trusted in Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, other nations for protection.

–They trusted God but… they also trusted in their own schemes to get ahead financially which forced the poor into deeper poverty, even slavery.

The United States of America in the 21st Century AD–

While the names and context is different, you can clearly see the similarities to Judah in the 8th Century BC.

Four contrasts given in Isaiah 26 (verses 1-6):

1.  The contrast between inhabiting the celestial city or lofty ruins.

2.  Walking the heavenly path or the aimless way.

3.  Working with divine ability or human inability.

4.  Rising to eternal life or to judgement.

B.  THE FIRST CONTRAST–“CELESTIAL CITY” or “LOFTY RUINS”?

ISAIAH tells us, those who TRUST IN GOD live in a strong city and we have the same call today!  The writer of Hebrews calls us to look for a city “whose Architect and Builder is God”  (Hebrews 11:10).  And the apostle John describes the city, Revelation 21.

So what does ISAIAH say about the city in Isaiah 26:1:

“IN THAT day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah:  We have a strong city; [the Lord] sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks.”

The picture I have displayed is one of the 9 Gates into the Old City of Jerusalem today; The Damascus Gate.

The DAMASCUS GATE

First the prophet tells us that the city is strong and that salvation is its walls and the bulwarks, ramparts, are the defense.  Our salvation is our protection, but it is also our separation.

There is a distinction between those who are SAVED and inside the city with God; protected by God and those who are NOT SAVED, outside of the city.

So how does one get inside the city?  Look next at verse 2 for the answer:

“Open the gates, that the [uncompromisingly] righteous nation which keeps her faith and her troth [with God] may enter in.”

Now if we’ve read our Bibles, we know Christ is referred to as the GATE:

[9] “I am the Door [the GATE]; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live).  He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture.”

And then my favorite verse in the Bible–

[10] “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:9-10 AMP).

1.  We can’t enter by climbing over the walls; trying to SAVE OURSELVES by works of righteousness.

2.  We can’t enter by digging under the wall, trying to get around God’s righteousness and salvation.

Just as there would be only one way to enter a fortified city–through the only gate that was opened.  So the only way to enter God’s SALVATION is through the gate He provided for us all–through Jesus Christ!

3.  We Don’t Enter The City Because Of Righteous Works but by FAITH.

[3] You [the Lord] will guard him and keep him perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.  [4] So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages]”  (Isaiah 26:3-4 AMP).

Those are both well-known verses in the Bible.  It shows that this righteous nation is righteous because they TRUST IN GOD; because such TRUST is unwavering trust; because their trust is in the Lord forever!

C.  WHEN WE ARE DECLARED RIGHTEOUS:

When we TRUST IN GOD, it’s not because we carry around with us in our pockets coins that have a motto.  We are declared righteous when we live in a strong city of FAITH; because Jesus bore our sins on a cross and so we may be given His righteousness.  That is powerful!

A Choice Between 2-Cities of Contrasts.

–THE CITY OF GOD.

–THE CITY OF MAN.

TRUST in God allows us to inhabit the City of God, a city of salvation.  TRUST in Man allows us to inhabit the “lofty” city, a city doomed to destruction.

The City of Man looks secure–its “lofty”–great, dignified with beauty and magnificence.  But like many beautiful cities in the world, looks can be deceptive.  The city Isaiah is talking about will be demolished!

TRUST in anything but God and trust is  misplaced because this world that we are living in with all its values, its systems, will one day be destroyed.  And when I mean ‘destroyed’, it may not necessarily be destroyed from earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, etc..  But destroyed from within by subversion.  Look at the media today regarding the politics in the world.  It’s happening as I write this blog.

D.  Which City Do You Spend Your Time In?

Are you living in the City of Salvation or the City of Man?  Are you trying to live in both cities; maintaining summer and winter homes in two different cities?  Could you be known by your neighbors as Christian “snow birds”?

You will need to make a choice.

While we do business with the City of Man we are able to live in the City of Salvation.

Part II in the series- “Walking In The Divine Path or the Aimless Way”