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Accessible, Perfect Wisdom

8 Dec

No mere man had greater wisdom than Solomon (1 Kings 4:29–32). Yet, regarding his wisdom, he received it (1 Kings 4:29), and therefore it is less than its source—indeed so much less (Job 12:13; Rom. 11:33)! Christians can be confident that we trust and serve a perfectly wise God. We can find contentment in him, knowing that he is wisely bringing about his perfect plan (Isa. 46:10). We can have hope and peace in the worst of circumstances, knowing that God’s wise providence is caring for us (Phil. 4:7; Psa. 23). We can rejoice knowing that we do not trust and serve a lesser king, but the omniscient, omni-wise King of kings. We can worship him for his lovely wisdom, especially for the wisdom shown in his eternal plan of redemption through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:20; Acts 2:23). And we can shout “hallelujah” for the giving of his perfect wisdom to us in his Word (2 Tim. 3:16; Prov. 1–2)! What a tremendous gift. If one lacks wisdom, ask the Lord who gives generously (James 1:5)! Seek it in the pages of Holy Scripture, asking that the Spirit would illumine your mind and heart to receive, know, and apply the wisdom already laid down—the wisdom that can make man complete (2 Tim 3:15–17).

Let us not think, Oh, I wish I could have sat at the feet of Solomon. Oh, to be one of the men that stood in his presence. Remember, you can sit at the feet of the Almighty; you can stand in his presence by opening your Bible and praying for the Spirit’s assistance. And if “Happy are [the] men, happy are [the] servants, that stand continually before [Solomon], and that hear [his] wisdom” (1 Kings 10:8), how much happier ought we to be who have the complete, perfect wisdom of God recorded for us and accessible to us in his Scripture!

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Jehovah’s Faithful Presence 

13 Jul

​”For the cloud of Yahweh was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night before the eyes of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:38 LEB) 

This remarkable statement closes out the book of Exodus by comforting God’s people with the reassurance that God is always present with his people in a special way. It emphasizes the unbreakable faithfulness of God to his covenant people, for he had previously promised to guide them into the promised land, to protect and lead them on their journey (Exo. 3:8,17; 13:11, 21-22, et al). The same God who rescued them from Egypt would see them all their way. Even when the people rebelled and were ungrateful, Jehovah provided them with all their needs. Moses too had said to Jehovah that it would be pointless for them to continue on their journey if Jehovah’s presence did not go with them (Exo. 33:14-16), which illustrates mans need to perpetually rely on God. 

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever; he never changes (Num. 23:19; I Sam. 15:29; Psa. 55:19; Jam. 1:17). He reassures his people that those he rescues from sin, he also guides them with his continual special presence until they enter Glory (see also Rom. 8:28-30)…as he promised.

Thanks be to God. 

Don’t Skip the Genealogies

18 Apr

genealogy graphicScripture is replete with various genealogies but many approach them with either indifference or with a negative mindset or emotions. There are various ways in which this plays out, for instance, people often see the lists, the begets, and the names and (1) skip past them altogether in order to get to the good stuff, (2) skim them out of a recognition for their inclusion in the Bible but give little actual attention to them, or (3) to be able to say they’ve actually read every word of the Bible.  I have fallen into all three at one time or another. But I would like to advocate for a fourth option—(4) recognize that these genealogies are no less inspired than any other passage, quote, or story in the Bible, that they play a purposeful and significant role in Scripture, that God has sovereignly determined their place and providentially kept them in the corpus of his Holy Word.

How then is that to change our interactions with the Word? First, choose not to skip past them, but to give them the time they deserve. This will likely require more time spent on these sections than you are used to, but it is worth it. Secondly, deliberately tackle these sections when you get to them. If you have difficultly seeing a genealogies purpose, check out some commentaries, think about the importance of the family or person that is the focus of the genealogy, read the text surrounding the genealogy for information to why it exists and why it is placed at that point in Scripture, try mapping the genealogy out on paper as a visual aid, and don’t hesitate to ask a trusted Christian who spends a lot of time in the Word for help.

Let’s look briefly at one genealogy from Exodus 6:14-25:

  1. Israel
    1. Reuben
      1. Hanoch
      2. Pallu
      3. Hezron
      4. Carmi
    2. Simeon
      1. Jemuel
      2. Jamin
      3. Ohab
      4. Jachin
      5. Zohar
      6. Shaul
    3. Levi
      1. Gershom
        1. Libni
        2. Shimei
      2. Kohath
        1. Amram
          1. Aaron
            1. Nadab
            2. Abihu
            3. Eleazar
              1. Phinehas
            4. Ithama
          2. MOSES
        2. Izhar
          1. Korah
            1. Assir
            2. Elkanah
            3. Abiasaph
          2. Nepheg
          3. Zichri
        3. Hebron
        4. Uzziel
          1. Mishael
          2. Elzaphan
          3. Sithri
      3. Merari
        1. Mahli
        2. Mushi

Moses, the author according to orthodox teaching, recounts family lines of Israel. He begins with the sons of Reuben, then the Sons of Simeon, then of Levi, but then we see a change; he goes further into each of Levi’s sons. Why? The point is to show the historicity and family line of Moses and Aaron (v26–27), to give credit to the overall progression of God’s dealing with men (particularly his people), to show God’s faithfulness to his covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (and all those called by his name), to show Moses’ and Aaron’s familial tie to the people who are in bondage in Egypt, to show that they too are mere men being used by the almighty God, and to show us that the God we serve is the same faithful, saving, powerful, wrathful, gracious God. A few more interesting things can be noted:

Aaron’s family is taken the furthest in the genealogy. This may cause the reader to think he was given the prime focus, but this is not so—read on. He is second in focus (v26-27); his sons will carry out the priestly line; Nadab and Abihu will be judged for the liberties they take with worship; Phinehas will have great zeal for the Lord and by doing so, save lives (Num. 25).

No other sons of Israel/Jacob are included after Levi. Why? because it is focuses on Moses and Aaron who come from the 3rd eldest son of Israel.

Korah’s line is expanded one more generation unlike all but Aaron’s. Why? Was there a lot of barren women? No, more likely because Korah’s family played a prominent role to come; for instance, they rose up against Moses and Aaron in opposition to God’s design of the Aaronic priesthood (Numbers 16), and the sons of Korah wrote a good portion of the Psalms.

Moses’s line is not expanded even though we know he had sons (Exo. 4:20, 25); this is deliberate. Why? And here we see that the focus of this genealogy is Moses. We know based upon v26–27 that it is about Aaron and Moses; we know Moses’ family does extend; we know that Moses was the main mediator and servant God used at this time; we know that Moses is one of the major shadow’s of Christ Jesus who was to come (as a prophet, priest, king, servant, saviour, etc).

As you can see, there is much that can be learned from genealogies in Scripture. I hope you will have a desire to give them the time they deserve, since they are no less inspired or authoritative or sufficient for the Christians’s life.

What else do you see?

(graphic source: genealogylaois.com)

 

A Beautiful, Honest Prayer

1 Feb
And Jacob said, “Oh God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, O Jehovah, who saidst unto me, ‘Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will do thee good:’ I am not worthy of the least of all the lovingkindnesses, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant; (Gen. xxxii.9-10a).
I love this honest, heartfelt prayer that Jacob prays in the presence of his fear.
(1) He cries out to God
(2) He recognizes that this is the same, one, true God of his father and grandfather. The same God who covenanted with them and with Jacob. He is a faithful God. It shows that it is the responsibility of the heads of the household to share about that faith with their families. He even uses the covenant name of God–Jehovah.
(3) He acknowledges God’s commands and promises. Praying Scripture back to God is not only pleasing to God, but comforting for the person of faith.
(4) He acknowledges his humble state before a mighty God: “I am not worthy…”
(5) He notes that God’s lovingkindnesses are unmerited and only given by his unfathomable grace and mercy.
(6) He acknowledges that God making himself and his plans known is also a gracious and merciful act. This one particularly made an impression on me as I read this prayer. We must not forget that God’s grace extends further than his forgiveness and his patient endurance with us. God did not have to make himself known to us. He would be no less real or powerful by keeping to himself, yet he has been intimate with us. He allows us to have a close, personal relationship with him. He does this most beautifully and wonderfully in his son Jesus (God with us) through the Holy Spirit. Jacob rightly acknowledges that we are not worthy of knowing God, not worthy of knowing his will…and yet, God lovingly reveal himself: “which THOU hast shown unto thy servant.” We have the most complete knowledge of him in his revealing of himself in his Word–the Scriptures of the Bible. Let us never take for granted that he has made himself known to us in his Word. Let us always be clinging, searching, submitting, and enjoying Scripture, for by it we know the heart and mind of the God of all things visible and invisible.

15 Dangers of Self-Pity

18 Dec

Self-pity puts the self first.
Self-pity can lead to cynicism.
Self-pity can lead to inactivity.
Self-pity can lead to negativism.
Self-pity can lead to depression.
Self-pity is contrary to the Gospel.
Self-pity is an enemy of contentment.
Self-pity often forgets the plight of others.
Self-pity forgets that suffering is part of life.
Self-pity can cause you to be critical of others.
Self-pity takes the mind off of God’s promises.
Self-pity often forgets the benefits of suffering.
Self-pity is adverse to determination and perseverance.
Self-pity takes the eyes off of the many blessings given you.
Self-pity is self-perpetuating and will increase in its destructive power.

Self-pity is a gnawing evil. Instead of pitying the self, pity Christ.

“Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who…emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.” -Philippians 2:5-8

Why I Am Happy After the Sad U. S. Ruling on Marriage

27 Jun

Though saddened, I am not surprised at the U. S. ruling to legitimize and promote sexual sin. The bible warns that itching ears will hear what they want, that sin will spread, people will call good, evil and evil, good, and that even within the church, false teachers will arise. In this historic time when our society legitimises yet another sin (murder of children in abortion and now marriage degradation and the further approval and rejoicing in sinful sexual practice), I am yet happy.

Happy? Did you say… Happy? Yes. I remain happy and rejoice, knowing that the Christ and his Bride, the Church, will not be prevailed over by Satan and sin. I am happy because I know that the good news of Jesus Christ is still, and forever will be, the best news – there is no greater. No bad news will ever triumph over Christ’s message. I am happy because, sinners will continue to be brought to repentance, faith, and godliness. I am happy because, Christ reigns and will return to set all aright, even though sin and evil is present. I am happy because I have Scripture’s testimony that these things were to happen–I am not caught unaware–and the promise that it will not always be so. God will be gloried and every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, even those who reject him. I am happy because I can currently write such things in the U.S.A. without imprisonment or death. I am happy because my God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I am happy because all things work together for the good of those that love Jesus. I am happy because my faith is not affected by the world’s rejoicing in sin; the world has always been contrary to the truth. I am happy because the wickedness of the world is also encouraging more Christians to boldly speak the truth as the Spirit moves them. I am happy because as the world becomes more contrary to the Word and will of God, the brighter Christ’s light will seem in a progressively darkening society. I am happy because God’s Word stands forever true even if the whole world would deny it. I am happy because God is sovereign and therefore he will bring about his will with all certainty. I am happy because salvation is sure for those who belong to Christ. I am happy because sin only makes me long that much more for the day when I will meet my Saviour face to face and all sickness and sin is behind me. “Man may trouble and distress me–’twill but drive me to Thy breast” (Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken). I am happy because Christ has already dethroned Satan and evil at the cross, and the reason that the final judgement on the Day of the Lord taries, is that Christ is bringing more and more souls into his kingdom daily. Though sin exists, this is the age of grace and the time of salvation. Thank you, Lord Jehovah!

Suffering

25 May

My heart goes out to the many of my brothers and sisters who are suffering in various ways. Yet, I also have great hope for them, for “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8.28). The ever-faithful One promises to care for his sheep and to bless them through the sometimes fiery trials. So though my heart aches for those struggling, I know they are not alone. They are being cared for by our loving God; hopefully too, they feel the loving fellowship within the Church. Furthermore, we have a Saviour who knows what it means to suffer – having suffered unto death, under the weight of sin, under the wrath of the Father.

“it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering” (Hebrews 2.10).

If Jesus was made a perfect saviour for us through his faithfulness in the presence of suffering, we have the opportunity to imitate him when we encounter suffering.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5.3-5).

This is difficult for most of us (myself included), i.e.rejoicing in sufferings. Yet it helps to remember that our Saviour suffered much more; that he can empathize with our sufferings. And though difficult when we feel its weight, suffering promises blessings: greater character and stronger faith in God.

That’s all nice and well, but suffering is difficult. What shall we do in the midst of hardship? “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (James 5.13a). Through prayer we can find strength to endure. Through scripture, we can find strength through those who have suffered beforehand, and through the promises given to us concerning suffering (as we have seen above). We can also find strength in the Church, who love us through trials and remind us of the truth when our minds are clouded by hardship. Let us also remember that we, as Christians, are not fatalist. Whether we live or die, we are sons and daughters of the Father in heaven, and we are never separated from the presence of our God – He is near; He dwells within us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, where we can rest in his peace. And we can still look to the day when the end of suffering will be everlasting; when we rest fully in him (Hebrews 4).