Why Do The “Righteous” Suffer? (PART ONE)

1 Peter 3:13-15 (NLT):

[13] Now who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?  [14] But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.  [15] Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.

images (1)

Someone asked C.S. Lewis, “Why do the righteous suffer?”  “Why not?” he replied. “They’re the only ones who should be able to take it.”

There is no doubt we live in a changing world, marked by terrorism, wars and rumors of war and the constant threat of nuclear, biological or chemical extinction.  That’s the BAD NEWS!

But praise God, whatever fearful situation we might find ourselves in…there is the biblical unchangeableness of God Almighty that is comforting.

We must fight fear by anchoring our lives in this truth.

  • Our MASTER never changes.
  • Our MESSAGE never changes.
  • And Our MISSION never changes.

What we need today is an anointing of the Holy Spirit to relate our unchanging gospel to the FEARFUL changing world we live in.

EMOTIONALLY BASED FEAR –

FEAR is such a strange EMOTION.  One Bible Teacher/pastor refers to it as the EMOTION QUOTIENT where some “fears” have even been given names:

Aerophobia:  FEAR of drafts.

Peladophobia: And no, that isn’t a city in Pennsylvania.  It is a FEAR of baldness or fear of bald people.

Chaetophobia:  FEAR of hairy people.

Phobophobia:  FEAR of being afraid.

Experiencing FEAR is normal; however, to be paralyzed by fear is an indication that we question God’s ability to take care of us.

The SUFFERING is Inevitable (v. 13-14):

[13]  Now who is there to hurt you if you are zealous followers of that which is good?  [14] But even in case you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, [you are] blessed (happy, to be envied). Do not dread or be afraid of their threats, nor be disturbed [by their opposition].  (AMPLIFIED)

Peter’s question must have hung in the air for a long moment when the Christians first heard the letter read.  They were no strangers to fear and suffering and suffered on occasions for doing good to others.

Peter is NOT addressing the spiritually immature believer here.  He is addressing strong Christians who were “zealous” for the Lord.

Peter goes on to speak about the Christian attitude to suffering.  It is well noted that man is involved in TWO KINDS of SUFFERING:

  • Suffering in which we are a part of because of our humanity–human flesh: physical suffering, death, sorrow, distress of the mind, weariness and pain of the body.
  • But there is also the suffering we may be involved with because of our Christian Faith.  There may be unpopularity, persecution, sacrifice of principle and deliberate choosing of the difficult way, the necessary discipline attributed to Christian lifestyle.

And yet, the Christian way of living has a certain BLESSEDNESS which runs through it all.  IT’S OUR HOPE!

THOSE SUFFERING PERSECUTION WILL BE BLESSED!

Really?

There is something about facing my fears that allows FAITH to be genuine, to shine!  

What good is our FAITH if it is never tested (James 1:3, 4):

10660338865_d40d10fd4e_b

In a book entitled, “Cradles of Eminence”, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development produced a revealing study:

They said,  “413 famous and exceptionally gifted people helped change the world.  And the reasons, the authors spent years attempting to understand what produced such “greatness”; trying to find a common thread.  Surprisingly, the most outstanding fact they found with virtually all of them, 392 of 413, had overcome the personal fears associated with great suffering or failure in order to become who they were.  [See Footnote [i] ]

When a person focusses his/her mind and life on things of this world, those “things” can be taken away in a heartbeat.

You can be stricken with a disease, suffer a heart attack, have an accident, lose everything through an economic slump or stock market crash.  A person of the world can suffer a crushing blow and FEAR destroys them–leaves them hopeless in life.  But that SHOULD NOT BE the case of a TRUE BELIEVER.  We are blessed!  We have victory!!

FINDING VICTORY IN GOD’S PROMISES FROM FEAR –

Here is but a partial list of God’s PROMISES to us as believers in facing our worst FEARS:

  • God will work out all things for good (Romans 8:28).
  • God will provide all the necessities of life (Matthew 6:33).
  • God will give you His glory in the face of insults (1 Peter 4:14).
  • The life of Christ Jesus is best manifested through us in fear and suffering        (2 Corinthians 4:11).
  • God provides GREAT rewards for those who stand in fear and suffering (Matthew 5:11-12).
  • God will preserve us and take us to Heaven as we stand in Him against our fears and suffering (2 Timothy 4:8).

So, what do Christians fear about being a “Christian”?

— SEE PART TWO–

 


 

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:

Footnote [I] – “Cradles of Eminence” by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development and a Book by Mildred George Goertzel & Victor Goertzel–www.davidsongifted.org/

Photo:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.

 

 

 

In DEATH, Are We Just “Food for Worms”… Or, Is There More?

~ Our Study Scripture – 1 Corinthians 15:35-52 ~

cremation-burial-resurrection

 The Resurrection Body —

In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul is writing a letter to a group of Christians who were struggling with the issue of what happens after one dies.  They were living about 24 years after the RESURRECTION, and as we often today have lapses in memory of past events, their thinking about life and death were being influenced by their culture.

I read in a recent survey this past week, that 30% of all American believe in reincarnation; a belief that each individual soul lives a succession of lives in various human bodies over the course of history.  The purpose being, such reincarnation gradually purifies the soul eventually reaching perfection.

Even harder to grasp in reading this survey, Gallup also found 25% of those who describe themselves as Christians, including 10% of those…defining themselves as “born-again”/evangelicals.  [See Footnote [i] ]

This idea (25%/10% of Christians) makes absolutely no sense to me.  REINCARNATION is incompatible to the TRUTH of the Gospel.  Even among Americans who believe in the resurrection of the dead, 2/3 believe they will not have bodies after the RESURRECTION (Alcorn p. 110).

RESURRECTION by its very definition requires a body.  If we didn’t have bodies, we wouldn’t be resurrected!

“What Awaits After Death?”

~ Philippians 1:21 New Living Translation (NLT) ~

“For to me, living means living for Christ,

And dying is even better.”

PHYSICAL DEATH is the separation of the body from the soul.  At the DEATH of a believer in Christ Jesus, the body is committed to the grave and the soul and spirit goes to be with Jesus.

DEATH is an abnormal condition because it tears apart what God created and joined together.

God intended our bodies to last as long as our souls.  The reason we are decaying and dying is not because we have bodies.  It is because SIN has infected our bodies.

The Biblical Doctrine of Resurrection

This understanding is an affirmation that we are a spiritual and physical unity; that God intends to put us back together again.  I call it, the “Humpty Dumpty Effect.”  The kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t do it, but my King certainly can!

Although the soul is separate from the body at death, it’s only a temporary condition.  Some of you reading this care less about what happens to your body–after you die.  Right now, after looking in the mirror in the morning, hoping to find enough aspirin, icy/hot and duct tape to keep yourselves from falling apart and running now.

I would like to share some exciting news about what eternity holds for you physically as “mirror” gazers.  YEP! PHYSICALLY!! One day, you are going to experience the ultimate extreme makeover.

Being Transformed For Life In Heaven–

First, The New Body Is Real.

Paul addresses the FIRST QUESTION,  “How are the dead in Christ raised up?”  beginning in verse thirty-six:

“You foolish man!  Every time you plant a seed, you sow something that does not come to life UNLESS it dies first”  (1 Cor. 15:36).

This verse says that the body is “sown” – “sown” here means “buried.”  It seems obvious there’s no need for a resurrection “UNLESS” one is dead.

New, Yet Part Of The Old (vv. 37-38)

“Nor is the seed you sow then the body which it is going to have [later], but it is a naked kernel, perhaps of wheat or some of the rest of grains.  But God gives to it the body that He plans and sees fir, and to each kind of seed a body of its own.”

The illustration Paul uses here explains the “seed sown” doesn’t look like the fruit it will produce.

When you plant a pumpkin seed, as I do every year, the seeds planted never looks like a pumpkin.  Although the seed doesn’t look like the pumpkin, I know I can’t get the fruit if I don’t plant the seed.

The BODY that is resurrected is a brand new you.  If it’s not you, then it’s not resurrected.  Perhaps this analogy might help you understand my meaning–

At the age of thirty I was SAVED!  I became a new person, yet I was still the person I had always been.  I hoped those around me saw a lot of change in my life, but not to the point that they could not say, “That’s Mel.” 

This same MEL will undergo another change at death, and yet another change at the RESURRECTION.  But through all these changes, I’ll continue to be who I was and always will be [I’m indebted to John Hamby and Randy Alcorn’s analogy as a model].

Secondly, The New Body Is Recognizable–

One of the most often asked question concerning HEAVEN over the years is,  “Will we know our loved ones and will they know us?”

The only real example of what our resurrected body will be like in eternity is what we read of JESUS in the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension.  JESUS walked the earth in His resurrection body for forty days showing us how we would live as resurrected human beings.

We are going to have bodies like JESUS (Note I didn’t say we were going to become little JESUS’).  It was the same body He had before He died and recognized by His friends. Yet, when the resurrected Lord appeared, He was so different that the first they didn’t recognize Him.

thomas

— He arose from the DEAD, yet upon His body were still the marks of the crucifixion, where-by His disciples knew with understanding this was the same JESUS in the same body (The Gospel of John Chapters 20-21).

— He had a real body that could touch, be touched and could and did eat(Mark 24:13-45).

Not only is the New Body Recognizable but…

Third, The New Body Is Radically Different

In Paul’s second rhetorical question in 1 Corinthians 15:35, he addresses what kind of body WE will have that is suitable for living forever in Heaven.

In verse forty-two Paul begins answering that question by drawing a series of contrast–

#1. The New Body Will Be Indestructible (v. 42):

“[The body] that is sown is perishable and decays…” [“food for worms”]. “but [the body] that is resurrected is imperishable (immune to decay, immortal)” (AMP translation).

First thing Paul tells us is our new resurrection bodies are indestructible–our new bodies are not like our old bodies–our current bodies wear out…we get old…we begin to notice everything doesn’t work like it use to. We begin to understand the old saying, “What doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.” We discover that no matter what the infomercial promises, it can’t stop the aging process.  At best, we may slow it down somewhat or camouflage it, but we can’t stop it.

Our new bodies will be made to last forever. Our resurrection bodies are not subject to disease or decay or aging. HALLELUJAH! Bodies will literally out-live the stars!

#2. The New Body Will Be Glorious (v. 43 a.):

“It is sown in dishonor and humiliation; it is raised in honor and glory…”

The word “GLORY” means brilliance. Our new bodies will be glorious like that of the risen Christ.

In Philippians 3:21 Paul says Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior “Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty…”

#3. The New Body Will Be Powerful (v. 43 b.):

“…it is sown in weakness, raised in POWER.”

We will possess a new body with abilities beyond our wildest imaginations.

When JESUS was with His disciples, He had POWER to come and go as He pleased, neither walls nor distance were obstacles.

According to John 20:25, JESUS came into the room without opening the door.  Now we are never told in Scripture that we’ll be able to do the same things JESUS did (like pass through closed doors).  It may be that some aspects of His resurrection body are unique because of His divine nature.  We may not share those special abilities that JESUS possessed but whatever abilities we do have will be more than we could have ever dreamed of.

#4. The New Body Will Be Infinite (v. 44 a.)

“It is sown a natural (physical) body; it is raised a supernatural (a spiritual) body…”

To say that we’ll have a “spiritual body” doesn’t mean we will just be spirits.  Somehow many Christians have come to the conclusion life in eternity is going to be some kind of ghost-like spiritual being.

JESUS reassured His disciples, “I am not a ghost…” (Luke 24:39 NLT).

We will be raised with a body suitable for our new life!

Fourth, The New Body Is Received At Christ’s Return (vv. 51-52):

"The Twinkling of an Eye"
“The Twinkling of an Eye”

[51] Take notice!  I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God).  We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed).

[52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the [sound of the] last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [in Christ] will be raised imperishable (free and immune from decay), and we shall be changed (transformed).

“In a TWINKLING of An Eye”

Paul answers the question “Who will be resurrected and when?” in verses fifty-one and fifty-two.

“Take notice! …”

The DEAD in Christ will rise first and given new glorified bodies and the LIVING BELIEVERS will follow in the Parousia [STRONGS NT 3952 – Bible Hub.com], the RAPTURE– and their bodies will be transformed.

Paul further explains the sequence of events in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (AMP): 

[16] For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have depart this life in Christ will rise first.

[17] Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord. 

All this will happen in the twinkling of an eye–a “wink”.  How long exactly, is the “twinkling of an eye”?  Jack Van Impe has defined “the twinkling of an eye as eleven one-hundredths of  a second [See Footnote [i] ].

Ben Franklin’s Epitaph–

In preparing this weeks topic, I discovered the epitaph that Ben Franklin wrote for himself while still a young man [See Footnote [ii]. ] 

I loved his wording because it wonderfully catches the spirit of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:

The body of B. Franklin, printer, (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding) lies here, food for worms.

But the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more, in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the Author.

He was born on January 6, 1706

Died 17

 


Footnotes and Credits:

[i] – www.blogos.org/theologyapologetics/reincarnation-christianity.hphp

[ii] – http://www.ushistory.org/franklin-grave

Bible Translations Used:

Amplified Bible (AMP); New Living Translation (NLT)

Photo Credits:

“Twinkling” Eye: Shutterstock via Photo Pin.

Google Images – 1 Corinthians 15:42 Image; The New Body Is Recognizable: Marks of the Crucifixion Image.

“When the Roll is Called Up Yonder!”

ISAIAH 2:2-5:

[2]  In the last days the mountain of the LORD’S temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

[3]  Many peoples will come and say,  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

[4]  He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

[5]  Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

[New International translation]

THE TEMPLE – (verse 2 a.):

SOLOMON'S TEMPLE -Artist's Rendition
SOLOMON’S TEMPLE -Artist’s Rendition

Solomon’s Temple was built on the mountain of the Lord, Mount Moriah, highly visible to all the people of Jerusalem.

[For more on the Temple’s significance, See 2 Chronicles 3-6].

“In the last days…”

Bible prophecy is much like peeling an onion.  As you peel the onion, it gets stronger the farther down you go and at the same time, each layer is significant in its own right.   This certainly applies here in Isaiah.  [https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012-03-13/peeling-an-onion:-the-many-layers-of-biblical-prophecy/.]

Revealing the Core
Revealing the Core

 

 

VERSES 2-5–“A Hymn of Hope for Zion”–

This is the looking forward to the “someday” of the LORD.  In the Old Testament, the “someday…” had reference to a time of the victorious interposition by GOD for the overthrow of the foes of Israel, e.g. Isaiah 2:12.  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary.]

Then in VERSE 6…HOPE is dashed in fragments:

Surely [LORD]  You have rejected and forsaken your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled  [with customs]  from the east and with soothsayers [who foretell] like the Philistines; also they strike hands and make pledges and agreements with the children of aliens.  (Amplified Bible)

THE WORLD TODAY:

VERSE 6 can be talking very much of the world today, where the church has largely abandoned its people.  The indifference of Christ’s teaching is diminishing as we allow, even encourage the teaching of foreign religions.

We sing songs proclaiming that we will not serve foreign gods, and society still encourages others to do so.

THE RESULT?  

We have a growth in the Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Eastern and mystical worship in our society and a confusion of belief.  Even church leaders talk about acceptance and incorporation of foreign worship into the worship of the One True God!

Exodus 20:3, 4 – King James Bible:

Thou shall have no other gods before me.  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Living In Today As Christians…

There will be a tomorrow, and a sense of tomorrows after that.  We’ve rested on our laurels; do we really believe Christ will return for His people?  Christ’s second coming becomes empty, a set of words which gives us comfort, becomes diluted, has little meaning.

THE SOMEDAY OF THE LORD – another layer of the onion revealed–

The day of the LORD will come…

JESUS has promised it… (Matthew 26)

The prophets foresee it…

The apostles affirm it…

Malachi 4:1, 2 a – NIV Bible:

“SURELY THE day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day this is coming will set them on fire,”  says the LORD Almighty.  “Not a root or a  branch will be left to them.  [2] But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings…

Joel 2:30, 31 – AMPLIFIED:

And I will show signs and wonders in the heavens; and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke.  [31] The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood BEFORE the great and terrible day of the LORD comes.

WE NEED TO  KEEP WATCH– 

“What!  Are you so utterly unable to stay awake and keep watch with Me…”  (Matthew 26:40).

The Greek word “watch” is Gregorio; translated means: “spiritual alertness”; “be vigilant”.  [i] See Footnote.

Keeping WATCH of World Events Occurring…

Matthew 24:6-8:

[6]  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.

[7]  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place;

[8]  All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birthpangs  [of the intolerable anguish].

Our attention these days is being focused on the trials and problems of our own lives; the increasing interest rates, inflation, negative equity for mortgage loans, increasing personal debt in America.

I read this week in my WORD STUDY investigation, an article entitled Debt Slavery:  30 Facts About Debt In America That Will Blow Your Mind  [ii] See Footnote.

“When your finances are dominated by debt, it makes it really hard to ever get ahead.  Incredibly, 43 percent of all American families spend more than they earn each year.  According to the Federal Reserve, median household debt in America has risen to $75,000.

MEN AND WOMEN IN THE LAND…

Across the land people are working hard in offices, factories, schools, etc., just trying to keep up…forgetting sometimes to WATCH!

Matthew 24:41, 42:

[41]  Two women will be grinding at the hand-mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

[42]  WATCH therefore, for you do not know in what kind of day [whether a near or remote one] your LORD is coming.

You may be sleeping in your bed, and some will be taken…and some will be left behind.  These are the words of JESUS himself!  We ignore them at our peril because a great and terrible day of the LORD is coming.

THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD  (Isaiah 2:3):

GOD  WILL JUDGE (Verse 4), and we shall have to stand before Him.  The Big Question is,  “in what frame of soul will we stand there?”  

As the story of our lives are REVEALED, what will you be thinking?

What matters even more…the Book in Jesus’ hands, the Lamb’s Book of Life–Revelation 20:12

The Book of Life
The Book of Life

“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”

IF our names are written there, have NO FEAR…for all of our past sins, our failures will be washed away.  Our past has been nailed on the Cross at Calvary.  We’ll be standing in WHITE ROBES, washed in the Blood of the Lamb!

Perfection is Attainable!

Here lies the great JOY that one day we will know:  PERFECT LIGHT–PERFECT PEACE–PERFECT JOY–PERFECT LOVE–in the eternal presence of GOD!  Nothing can take that perfection away from us, absolutely nothing!

Do you find yourself sitting on a pile of poop these days?

“Job was stuck on his dung hill”

I’ve been reading in my devotion time in the mornings, about the life of Job.  Living as I do in “dairy country”, I’m quite familiar with cow “dung.” You can see it, smell it every time one takes a walk in the morning or evening.

Job’s family had mainly been killed in tragedy.  His wife was against him and his best friends could only tell him he was in this situation because…he was a terrible sinner and GOD was punishing him.  FRIENDS can be that way sometimes, well-meaning as they may be.

Still… Job could say, in the middle of it all…

Job 19:23-27 – NAS Bible:

“Oh that my words were written!  Oh that they were inscribed in a book!  That with an iron stylus and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! 

“And as for me, I know my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.  Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall not see another.  My heart faints within me.”

In spite of his present circumstances, Job could confidently know and say,  “I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVES,”  “IN MY FLESH I WILL SEE GOD.”

Rev21_1_New_Jerusalem_Gustave_Dore_L_Sotka_2012IN THE “LAST DAY” A New Jerusalem–Revelation 21:2:

“And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, all arrayed like a bride beautified and adorned for her husband;”

Do you have the same confidence of Job?  Do you know on the last day of judgement, your Redeemer lives; that you’ll see Him with your own eyes?

You can know it, right where you’re sitting.  All it takes is for you to accept Jesus Christ as your LORD and Saviour.  He will stand there with you… and for you as your advocate.

I know I’ll be standing there, when The Roll is Called Up Yonder  for the children of God  [iii] See Footnote.

Yes, our past is nailed on the Cross at Calvary, but our future is tied to the RISEN CHRIST; the RISEN CHRIST who is going to return for His bride, the Church.

JESUS is coming again…

An old hymn I used to sing every sunday morning, while the choir came from the basement of the church, into our places on the platform.  It was a song written and composed by John W. Peterson:

Coming again,  coming again;

Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening and maybe soon!

Coming again, coming again;

O, what a wonderful day it will be,

JESUS is coming again!

But will you be ready?

Or, will you’ve been diverted into the concerns of this world?  That doesn’t mean, using the cliché,  “We’ve become so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly use.”  

There will be a day…

When JESUS is standing with you as your ADVOCATE–claiming us as His own!  So, when “the Roll is called up yonder,” will you be there?  Just come to JESUS as you are, and claim Him as your own!

The Bride of Christ--The CHURCH
The Bride of Christ–The CHURCH

 

PHOTO CREDIT: The First Temple – Solomon’s Temple from the Jewish Virtual Library.org/…/The-Temple.html.; New Earth, New Jerusalem ONION STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY – http://www.inmagine.com;  christimages.org/biblebooks/Book of Revelation.html.

Footnotes:

[i]  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary;  

[ii] Alex Jones’ INFOWARS.COM

[iii]  Title for this Blog came from:  Words & Music by James M. Black, 1893 cyberhymnal.org/htm/w/h/e/whenroll.htm.

 

 

 

Carelessness of spirit can happen!

I’ve been reading and studying lately in The Book of Psalms.  Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve done so, but it had been awhile.

Reading in the PSALMS can be uplifting, encouraging, convicting by the Spirit of God and this study was no exception.  However, the “this time” was more than a casual read, the underlining of verses…it became an eye opener to my spiritual well-being.

My hope for you is… this word study may just bring attention to your the “carelessness of spirit”; while attending Worship Services on Sundays, or whenever we sing and give our praises to Almighty God, all along while pretending we got everything down pat.  After all, we do the same thing–the “same- O, same-O”, when we attend church.  In fact, I’ve heard some people exclaim, while holding a 46 oz. travel mug of coffee, “I can’t sing, so I just ‘lip-sing’ ; no one around me even knows, and besides...the music is too loud anyway.”

I’ve come to learn, while in PUBLIC WORSHIP… is not about me…or you.  It’s not centered on us, but on God.  Though WORSHIP may have some benefits for us, it’s not about us.  It is never based on whether we FEEL like it, whether the music is to our liking, or whether we are pleased with the situation we find ourselves in.

PSALM 47:  To the Chief Musician

Unusual and Enthusiastic Expressions – 

VERSE 1:  O CLAP your hands, all you peoples!  Shout to God with the voice of triumph and songs of joy!

nfl_a_seahawksparade_300x200
Associated Press Photo

I find myself watching the 12th Man  parade this morning on local television, celebrating the NFL World Champions, the Seattle Seahawks.  As they proceed , surrounded by the throngs of fans cheering (700,000) uncontrollably for their hometown sport heroes,  for all they’ve accomplished.  It seems like the jubilation will be going on all afternoon.  Are the all the people weirdos? No! Most are sincerely excited, and besides…doesn’t everyone need a hero in their lives at times?

Verses 1-4:

[1]  O CLAP your hands, all you peoples!  Shout to God with the voice of triumph and songs of joy!

[2]  For the Lord Most High excites terror, awe, and dread; He is a great King over all the earth.

[3]  He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.

[4]  He chose our inheritance for us, the glory and pride of Jacob, whom He loves.  Selah  [pause and calmly think of that]!

We Can See JOY in the True Spirit of Worship–

JOY in God’s character…

JOY in His reign…

JOY in the triumphs of His Word (the GOSPEL)…

“O CLAP YOUR HANDS!”

Such expressions by the casual observer may seem a bit over zealous, but it shouldn’t be hastily censured and condemned, much less ridiculed; because if they come from an upright heart, God will accept the strength of the affection.

[Verse 1]  “Peoples” in the plural here, is used in calling both Jews and Gentiles–all nations.  And “Shout to God” – Jubilate Deo: 

In GOD, and concerning GOD, and in honor of GOD.

GOD doesn’t excite us to carnal JOY.

JOY in His favor, His blessing on His saints.

“The terrors of the Lord” – [Verse 2]:

“For the Lord Most High excites terror, awe, and dread; He is a great King over all the earth.”

When I first came upon the word, “terrors”, I must admit I was puzzled at first.  Being in terror would most likely curb the enthusiasm, the excitement of clapping and shouting.  Can you imagine the effect terror would have on 80,000 football fans, enclosed in a stadium, while there was the treat of terror in the building?

For the Lord most high is Terrible…

Christians celebrate Christ’s ascension–the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus–and He was “highly exalted!”  Then, He became TERRIBLE to His enemies, all power in heaven and earth being committed to Him.   

And then He began to display the excellent Majesty, His universal kingdom for all to see, being crowned King of kings, and Lord of lords.

None can resist His POWER or stand before His vengeance; yet as these terrors are carried out in behalf of His subjects.  All fit reasons for REJOICING!  His Omnipotence is terrible to crush, is almighty to protect!

God’s Omnipotence…

God is “all-powerfulness,” “almighty”, in other words, when God wants something done, it is done!  The apostle Paul wrote of God’s omnipotence--it is the sense that He is “above all,and through all, and in all” (Eph. 4:6).

THE UNUSUAL REIGN OF CHRIST, as it is, and is to be!

The Hope of Victory to the Church – [Verse 3]:

“He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.”

What shall be subdued?  By whose means?  –  Us.

By whose power? –  His.

When shall it be accomplished and what is the symbol? –  The Ascension (Psalm 47:5).

The final triumph for ALL BELIEVERS in Christ Jesus IS… all enemies are subdued under them in earth, and hell, within and without–gradually at first, then completely.

God’s Willingness – [Verse 4]:

“He chose our inheritance for us, the glory and pride of Jacob, whom He loves.  Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!”

His willingness to choose our inheritance in time and eternity.

His choice is better than ours–the excellency of Jacob.

He will leave us to the consequences of our own choices.

He will help us in obtaining that which He chooses for us by His Spirit.

The Ascension – [Verse 5]:

“God has ascended amid shouting, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.”

It’s publicity, solemnity, triumph, and joy!

Jesus, who went up…

Where He went up…

To what purpose…

With what result…

“O clap your hands people and shout…with the voice of triumph and songs of joy!”

The Importance of Songs of Joy [Verse 6]:

“Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!”

Why do SONG LEADERS in our worship services today, repeat the choruses over and over again?  The same question was probably asked years ago, when the worship leaders would have us sing every verse to a hymn on Sunday mornings.

Repetition can censure at times our slackness– that implies earnestness, frequency, delight and joy in singing, which should characterize the PRAISES offered.

Sing Praises with Understanding – [Verse 7]:

“For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises in a skillful psalm and with understanding.”

How can we make JOY in our hearts to God singing?

According to Psalm 47:7, we must sing with UNDERSTANDING, not by the watches on our wrists but by the WORDS OF THE SONG; we must give our attention to the content more than the music and consider WHAT WE SING as well as HOW WE SING;

“the time may affect the fancy, but it is the matter that affect the heart, and that…God principally sees.”

The word MASCHIL is used in the Psalms many times and Psalm 47 is not an exception.  It means to instruct with understanding, denoting a song which enforces some lesson of WISDOM or PIETY; a didactic song or Psalm [BibleStudyTools].

So, with that in mind, we must sing wisely to prevent a “carelessness of spirit” in our Worship & Praise services each week.  If we will sing gratefully, then we will ENJOY what we sing.

In other words, we should SING as we should PRAY:

“The what am I to do? I will PRAY with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will also pray [intelligently] with my mind and understanding;  I will SING with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will SING [intelligently] with my mind and understanding also”  (1 Corinthians 14:15 AMP).

If we don’t understand what we sing, it promotes carelessness of spirit, hardness of heart; and this makes the worship service immaterial and impudent.

THE GATHERING…

Psalm 47:9:

The princes and nobles of the peoples are gathered together, a [united] people for the God of Abraham, for the shields of the earth belong to God; He is highly exalted.

Christ’s GATHERING of the saints together with Him, will be at His second coming; His coming judgment, and His return will be as He ascended…“with the sound of a trumpet” [See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18].

BUT RELATIVE to the coming of

our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)

and our GATHERING together to [meet] Him…

~ 2 Thessalonians 2:1~

The Covenant Promise Will Be Fulfilled…

“In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” – “to Him shall the gathering of the people be.”

“For the Shields of the Earth Belong to God” [vs. 9]

All te Pomp & Circumstance, the emblems of rank and position, weapons of war,  ALL WILL pay homage and bow down to the King of all.

Those who are the earth’s protectors, the shields of society, derive their might from Him and are His.  ALL principalities and powers will be  subject to Yahweh and His Son, for He is greatly exalted in nature, in power, in character, in glory, NONE to compare with Him.  Oh, the vision of things to come!

hurricane_clouds__gulf_of_mexico5
The Blessed Hope!

“Applause, everyone.  Bravo, bravissimo!

Shout God-songs at the top of your lungs.”

Clapping Your Hands In Joy
Clapping Your Hands In Joy

~ Psalm 47:1 The Message Bible ~

Wishin’ and Hopin’ in the New Year!

“Wishing” We Didn’t Have to Say “Goodnight”–

In 1964, my lovely bride and I were married!  On our romantic dates, leading up to September 26, 1964, I would drop her off at her house, walk her to the front door where we would often stand on the porch (depending on the time on the clock), singing the songs that were currently popular and playing on the radio.

“Hoping” to Meet Curfew!

Although Dianne was 20 years old at the time, a 2-AM Curfew was to be strictly enforced or…TROUBLE!  Dianne’s mother would often raise her voice from behind the closed front door,  “Dianne, be quiet. Your dad is asleep!”  That was my future mother-in-law’s way of telling us…it’s late and there will be no ‘hanky-panky’ out there.  What will all the neighbors think while peeking out between their curtains?  One neighbor came out one night to water her garden–at 1:30 AM!

It was a small neighborhood and everyone knew everyone’s business.  I wished we could have stayed outside singing until the sun would rise–but hoping– ‘restriction in dating’ wouldn’t be necessary– as long as…we were obedient to her mom and dad’s rules.

One of my favorite singers back in the olden’ days was Dusty Springfield.  There was one particular song she recorded in 1964, “Wishin’ and Hopin’ “.  For you older readers, do you remember some of the words?

Just wishing and hoping and thinking and praying

planning and dreaming…

The song by the way, wasn’t a ‘religious’ number emphasizing the practice of how to pray in life.  It was a secular song about finding LOVE in your life from someone else.  And if you are wondering where I’m taking all this, let me direct you to grab your Bible and turn with me to the Book of  1 John 2:28-3:1-3 AMP:

What Does HOPE Have to Do With It?

THE BLESSED HOPE REVEALED!
THE BLESSED HOPE REVEALED!

1 John, Chapter 2:

[28]  And now, little children, abide (live, remain permanently) in Him, so that when He is made visible, we may have and enjoy perfect confidence (boldness, assurance) and not be ashamed and shrink from Him at His coming.  [29]  If you know (perceive and are sure) that He [Christ] is absolutely righteous (conforming to the Father’s will in purpose, thought and action), you may also know (be sure) that every one who does righteously [and is therefore in like manner conformed to the divine will] is born (begotten) of Him [God]. 

1 John, Chapter 3:

[1]  SEE WHAT [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God!  And so we are!  The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him.  [2]  Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children, it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.  [3]  And every one who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure–chaste, undefiled, guiltless.”

“HOPE” and “WISHES”–the Differences:

I read an article by Tonya Sheridan in preparation for our study that mentioned the differences between “hoping and wishing”:

A WISH is something that you desire to come true but no basis in reality.  It’s passive, can lead to frustration, even depression.  HOPING is having a DESIRE with REAL EXPECTATION.  To HOPE is believing the things you hope for can happen because you’ve invested time, energy, and passion toward making them happen.

An example of WISHING might sound something like this:  Lord, I’ve been unemployed now for too long!  I WISH you would give me a new job. 

The the Lord would answer by responding to your WISH:  I wish you had a job too! 

HOPING for a job would be praying that God would open the doors of opportunity today, and in HOPING…you actually start looking in confidence.  HOPE is a DESIRE coupled with DISCIPLINE.  God will do His part–you need to do your part.  You have to walk through the open door of opportunity.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary says, HOPE in the New Testament is a ‘favorable and confident expectation’–I like to add a few words to the definition:  With an outstretched neck!

Scripture Examples of “HOPE”:

Ephesians 4:4 – “[THERE IS] one body and one Spirit–just as there is also ONE HOPE [that belongs] to the calling you received–“

The “HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE”:  Titus 1:2, and 3:7

Titus 1:2:  “[Resting] in the hope of eternal life, [life] which the ever truthful God Who cannot deceive promised before the world or the ages of time began.”

Titus 3:7:  “…and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope.”

(i.e., “the full manifestation and realization of that life which is already in the believer’s possession.)

The Subject of HOPE–

One of the great themes in the Bible is based on HOPE.  The word occurs over 50 times in the New Testament.

To a BELIEVER:  HOPE is our strength to live healthy, godly, productive lives.  We depend greatly on this element of HOPE that was placed in hearts at accepting Jesus Christ as savior.

Without HOPE, for the unbeliever and the Believer, there is really no reason to expand effort; a state of hopelessness is closely related to a state of death.  HOPE is essential to the human soul, as water or food is to our physical bodies.  And a life without hope is a ‘living hell’.  In fact, it’s one thing that will make hell unbearable!–the absolute absence of HOPE!

GUESS WHO’S HAVING A YARD SALE?

Devil's Yard Sale
Devil’s Yard Sale

The Devil was having a yard sale and all of his tools were marked the name and price.  They were tools like hatred, lust, jealousy, deceit, lying, and pride.  All were carrying a HIGH PRICE TAG!

The Oldest Tool!
A Well-Worn Tool

But set to one side, there was a tool more worn than any other tool.  It was the most costly of the tool inventory.  The tool was labeled, DISCOURAGEMENT.

When asked why this tool was priced so high, the Devil answered,  “It’s more useful to me than any other tool.  When I can’t bring my victims down with any of these other tools, I use DISCOURAGEMENT–sweep them away!  That’s because most of them don’t even realize it belongs to me.”  Have you ever had that tool used on you?  Have you ever lost your JOY because you lost your HOPE?

The apostle Paul wrote to the ROMAN Christians, “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing  (bubbling over) with hope”  (Romans 15:13 AMP).

Have you ever been around a person overflowing in hope?  When I’ve been around a person like that, I want to get all the overflow of hope I can!

A Person Who Is Overflowing With HOPE–

Paul says that person–has the POWER of the Holy Spirit who is also full of joy and peace.  Those are the things that accompany HOPE.  It is amazing what a person full of HOPE can accomplish.

But the Devil also knows that godly hope is a powerful thing.  He will do everything he can to rob you of your confident expectation in God.

THE ISSUE OF FAITH AND HOPE–CAN’T HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER!

If I were to ask you a question right now:  “What are you looking forward to in the New Year?”  How would you answer?  Then, if I were to strengthen that question, asking, “What are you living for?”  I would be touching on the issue of HOPE.

“For in [this] HOPE we were saved.  But HOPE [the object of] which is seen is not HOPE.  For how can one HOPE for what he already sees?  But if we HOPE for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure”  (Romans 8:24-25).

Having HOPE and having FAITH are two of God’s gifts–

1.  HOPE provides purpose and well-being in our belief.

2.  FAITH gives us the strength to keep hoping which in turn, makes us optimistic and loving.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is the one in Hebrews 11–the FAITH Chapter:

“NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality  [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]”  (Hebrews 11:1 AMP).

FAITH is enduring–

Isaiah 7 verse 9 says, “If your faith is not enduring, you will not endure.”  God’s promise to us if we continue to endure, continue to carry on–God will provide for ALL of our needs.

God asks simply for HOPE and FAITH–

Bringing your umbrella when you are faithful–it will rain.

Bring your Bible when you are faithful–you want to share the Word.

Bring your heart when you faithfully want to love someone.

Be HOPEFUL and Be FAITHFUL and God will show you what goodness can come by simply having HOPE and FAITH!

What I Uncovered This Detective Investigation of 1 John 3:1-3:

1 John 3:1:  WHAT WE ARE.

1 John 3:2:  WHAT WE SHALL BE.

1 John 3:3:  WHAT WE SHOULD BE.

First John 3:1:  TELL US what we are and First John 3:2:  TELLS US what we shall be.  The reference here, of course is to the time of Jesus’ coming back for His Bride, the Church.  And although today’s conservative churches confess they believe it, ESCHATOLOGY has become a dormant message from pulpit these last days.  Although, this message of Christ’s return was mentioned in 1 John 2:28 as an incentive of holy living, now it’s repeated once more in the Third Chapter of First John, verse 2.

God’s Love For Us–

God’s LOVE doesn’t stop at the new birth, it continues throughout our lives and takes us right up to the return of Jesus Christ.  When the Lord appears, all true believers will see Him and will become like Him (Phil. 3:20, 21).

This means, of course, we will have new, glorified bodies, suited for heaven [NOT Asbestos, fire-proofed clothing].  But the apostle doesn’t stop here!

He has told us what we are and what we shall be.  Now in 1 John 3:3, he tells us what we should be.

In the HOPE of Christ’s return, we are to keep our lives CLEAN (purified)–

God works through our circumstances:

“Such HOPE never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s LOVE has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy spirit Who has been given to us”  (Romans 5:5 AMP).

That’s why John says…all those who have this kind of hope–this certainty–and understands this process, PURIFIES THEMSELVES, even as Christ is PURE!  (1 John 3:3).

But you say,  “Purify myself?  That is the one thing I can’t do.”  And that IS true.  God knows that.  So what does God mean when He says, purify yourself?

You purify yourself when you use the means He’s provided.  You mothers know how this works.

Your little boy has been playing outside and comes to the supper table–covered in dirt.  You send him to the bathroom to purify himself.  And like ALL boys, he turns on the water, runs his hands through it–turns the water off, wipes his hands on the towel, then comes back to the family table.  I know this from personal experience (I was a young boy and I had a son).

And as my mom said to me as she looked me over,  “But you’re not clean.”

Mel:  “Well, I washed myself.”

Mel’s Mom:  “But look at the dirt on your hands and arms, on your face, behind your ears.  You’re not all clean.”

Then every wise mother (my mom was very wise) asks, “Did you use soap?”  Of course he hasn’t, so she sends him back TO USE SOAP.

What is SOAP?

— It is a purifying agent, a cleansing agent.

It will do the job if it is employed.

So when he comes back the second time, he has washed with SOAP;  the SOAP has cleansed him, purified him.  Now he says,

“Look Mom, I’ve cleaned myself up!”  It is true that he did it, but he did it by using his mother’s provision.

THE “PROVISION” FOR OUR CLEANSING:

1.  The WORD of God.

2.  The Spirit of God.

1 John 1:7:  “But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].”

1 John 1:9:  “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness…”.

This is significant for Believers, and we must begin to take seriously the break in fellowship with Christ Jesus; because of an impatient spirit, an ugly word, a lustful idea, or a thought we have dwelt on, for oh to long.

The stain of it–

It doesn’t disappear with passage of time.  It interferes with our fellowship with the Son of God–we must do something about it.  We can’t simply forget it.

We must PURIFY OURSELVES by using His provision so we might become clean!  That is our desire, our HOPE within us.

I HOPE now, you’ve made a distinction for the upcoming New Year–Wishin’ for things to come won’t bring the desired result.  Only your heartfelt expectation with an “outstretched neck”, will you see the desired results.