Are You Waiting for God’s Axe to Fall?

Are you sure, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He will always come through for you? Are you SURE?

I know that you know at least some of the pertinent Bible verses that tell us we will be provided for, in the now as well as in the hereafter…but do you really feel completely secure in this? Are there not at least a few occasional doubts…that wiggle around in the back of your mind like the nasty little evil worms that they are! And then grab every possible bit of opportunity to grow into gobs & blobs of worry, anxiety, & fear?

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I used to speak frequently with a very interesting brother in the Lord, who had attended seminary, pastored, held house meetings & ministered at a teen mission center. He started his own janitorial supply business, was married & had (at the time) 2 children. He cast out devils. (He cast something out of me.) In fact, this brother told me that, for about a year, he had walked in the knowledge of being as God. Now, I know of no one else who has had that experience – and I would think that, anyone who has had it, would not have any problems at all trusting God. Yet, my friend had lived under the constant fear of not believing God would come through for him.

I couldn’t comprehend that inability. This brother seemed so…well, advanced…in the things of the Lord. And at that time, I was fairly sure of God’s ‘coming through’ for me, and I was nowhere near as knowledgeable in such matters, as this man was.

Now, knowing more & having walked decades with Jesus (through both valleys & atop mountains!), I too am ofttimes much less certain. Yet I constantly see His touch & provision, in the smallest details to the larger issues. As recently as today, I have been delivered from the hand of him who was too strong for me. (Concerning one of those larger issues!) Even so, I suspect that the next time I’m suffering, or anxious…He will leave me to my own devices. Which causes more suffering…

So I thought that I might lay out some Scriptures to counter-act this kind of doubt. I want to halt that train of thought in its tracks.

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There is absolute assurance. It is found in covenant, and only in covenant.

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“It will be an everlasting covenant.” (Ezekiel 37:26)

“I…will set My sanctuary in their midst forever…” (v.26)

“My dwelling place also will be with them” (v.27)

“You (Jesus) are a Priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 7:17)

I suspect that, when you’re struggling before a pile of bills that you can’t pay, and maybe your kids are sick and it was a rough day at the job, Melchizedek is not the first thing on your mind! You’re getting a headache and it’s all just too much at the moment…talk of covenants & priesthoods & kings, really, aren’t even in your rearview mirror.

But they need to be.

Melchizedek

~~~

 

Those things which we cannot be guaranteed that we can accomplish for ourselves, or for those we love & who need us, are prime causes of worry & anxiety. The list could go on & on, right? What great comfort would there be in some kind of guarantee outside of our own attempts!

“Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.” (Hebrews 7:22)

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In the message ‘Our New Covenant of Grace’, Rev. Wayne Monbleau states that “God did for us what we could never do for ourselves. That’s grace…”(https://youtu.be/lmZYJ18d_tw @2:40) 

You really need to let that sink in.

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This is our starting point.

I think that before we can experience complete rest in God’s Abba Father nature, and His caring for us in all things, we first must arrive at that watershed moment when we accept that we cannot. Period. I know this sounds contradictory, but before we begin doing what we can do, in any realm, we first must acknowledge that we cannot.

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WHEN we accept this, and turn to the One provided for us, Jesus the Son of God…

WHEN we understand that every answer lies in Him…(because the lasting answers do not lie in us)…

THEN everything pertaining to Him becomes important. And we realize that we are not wasting time learning about ancient Bible history or seemingly irrelevant details & instructions, thinking we should instead be stressing out over financial shortages & running ourselves ragged working overtime…

WHEN we understand that lasting security will not come through stressing out & running ragged, I think it is much easier to exhale and begin to become more fully engaged in learning about your New Covenant of grace.

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What I’m finding to be an unexpected comfort, is the continuity of covenant. It has always been available. (John 1:29 + Rev.13:8) It is not going away.

I used to perceive the different covenants of God as being in two separate categories, Old & New. My thinking was, the New Covenant is what’s happenin’, baby! The Old, not so much – it foreshadowed the New, of course, but other than that….it’s history…and I also used to be a little conflicted over my own perspectives here because the very Scripture itself tells me that the Word of God endures forever, so…how could any of that Word be just ‘history’? How could it not be potent & alive?

I understand now that the promises made by God in His ‘old’ covenants with Israel, Abraham, Levi & King David are in fact fulfilled in Jesus Christ through the New Covenant. They are all in one. There is no separateness in Him. I did not realize how desperately I needed to see this…until I saw it.

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“Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine Hand upon me.”

(Psalm 139:5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Losing Your Life

Instinctively, most of us would react without hesitation to protect our lives & our well-being – and that of those we love & value – when such would be threatened. On a less dramatic scale, it seems a normal & prudent course to think ahead, plan and make provisions for our daily survival. One needs to pay bills, go food shopping, make repairs to the house, clean & do laundry, etc., etc.  We do what we can to ensure a safe, healthy and if possible, comfortable existence.

Additionally, no one wants to suffer if it can be avoided. A way that I try to neutralize suffering is to engage in activities that satisfy me. A certain amount of pleasure can really sweeten the deal!

…so when I read a Scripture like “…Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross…” (Mark 8 :34), I want to run for the hills! To apparently make matters worse, the next verse warns against trying to save your own life. I am not sure I like where this is going! What? I’m not allowed to have any sense of safety, well-being? No pleasure? I can’t use my talents or ever seek to fulfill a desire? This, for me, is one of those Scriptures I often gloss over, feeling sick inside, and find another one that speaks of grace, or the goodness of God, etc.

Not necessarily a bad escape route, but eventually, I find I need to take the bull by the horns, and really look into those Scriptures that leave me feeling threatened. I must be missing something.

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Now, maybe these two Scriptures do mean everything that I am afraid they mean…but I can’t live with that. The letter kills, for sure, and God doesn’t give a spirit of fear…so I keep looking for another understanding here.

‘Deny’, in this particular verse, does mean deny, but with the emphasis of ‘utterly’ added. This Greek word is built on two other Greek words, one of which means ‘to contradict’, or reject.

Moving on to the second verse I mentioned, I learned that the Greek word for ‘lose’ means either ‘to destroy fully’ or ‘to perish’. And ‘save’ (in this verse) is translated ‘protect’, or preserve.

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Jumping down to the end of this chapter, we see that Jesus is speaking, among other things, about His words. His teachings. And He speaks of being ashamed of those words. When you look into ‘ashamed’, you find the concept of ‘disgrace’. Obvious enough, I guess, but then it occurs to me…disgrace. Is the crux of the problem rejecting His grace? (Okay, now a light is flickering in the darkness! THIS is what I’m talkin’ ’bout! Once grace enters the picture, everything changes.)

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These Scriptures are written in relation to following Jesus. To ‘follow’ Him means ‘to be in the same way with.’ How can two walk together unless they be agreed? We need to agree with Jesus’ words. So when He tells us we need to utterly deny ourselves and not try to protect our own lives – based on the new covenant of grace – I have to begin to consider that Jesus is speaking of completely abandoning all of our efforts to get right with God. Let His work on the cross alone ‘save’ us.

I suspect that much of what people do, thinking they are pursuing other good goals, are in fact an effort in the flesh to ‘save’ themselves. It may not be an overtly spiritual activity. It could be any activity at all. But the stress & pressure we can put on ourselves to ‘accomplish’ can be destructive. This is where I’m beginning to learn to lose my life. Stop trying to protect it. Ease up. Chill. You aren’t in this alone.

the Mercy Seat

the Mercy Seat

the Arab Spring, ancient Egypt, & Jesus Christ

 

“And the spirit of Egypt shall fail…”   (Isaiah 18: 3)

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”   (2 Cor.3: 17)

Rising for freedom in Tripoli

As one Arabian country after another began resisting the established rule of tyrants & dictators, and revolution broke out in almost a domino effect, how could we not see the deep & impassioned cry for liberty therein?  Though many have suggested Muslim Brotherhood manipulation – and very possibly there was/is – still, weren’t the consequent eruptions of rebellion, though violent, the result of a desire for the long-withheld  freedom God intended man to have?  Whether these people knew the God in which I believe or not, they knew what they were missing as far as their personal liberty was concerned.  Man was created to grow & function within certain environments, be they emotional, spiritual, environmental or social, and when key elements are missing in any of these environments, one way or another we feel that pain.

Fights erupt, battles are fought, wars are waged for different reasons.  Opposing sides clash in a contest of wills & goals.  It seems to me, though, that all conflicts are fueled to some degree by the universal desire for freedom.  Freedom to live as one chooses, where one chooses – in fact, freedom to choose! – freedom to pursue happiness…now where have we heard that before?  Oh, right, the Declaration of…what?  Independence.

One more time…Independence.

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Enter an adversary.  Or, the Adversary…who will obstruct your plans, your rights.  In whatever way will work for him/her/them, an adversary is out to get you, or what belongs to you, be it possessions, property, relationships, well-being or your life.  Your enemy does not want to let you just live your life, free & unhindered.  Through varied means, your enemy needs to try to control at least part of it.

I submit that the motivation provoking such actions is, essentially, jealousy.  Coveting what one does not have, perhaps thinks they can’t get, and hating the one who can. Needing not to feel that loss or void, they contrive, manipulate & deceive to acquire the elusive prize…from you or someone else.  Or, to put it another way, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain…”  (James 4:2)

I find it interesting that this section of Scripture houses words such as lust, kill, enmity, and envy, but immediately following these verses we see the appearance of the grace of God.  Hmmm…if we are humble enough to receive His grace, perhaps we will find a way out of the whole lust/murder cycle.

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Isaiah records much concerning Egypt of Old Testament times.  I am not a student of Old Testament history, and so, not knowledgeable of exactly what it all means.  For purposes of this article, let’s just say that ancient Egypt was a powerful, wealthy country, no stranger to wars & battles, and essentially Godless. Big on idols. Probably not a champion of human rights.  And I’m pretty sure slavery didn’t cause  Pharaoh and his crowd to lose any sleep at night.  We would not call the Egypt of that day ‘the good guy’.

Chapter 19 of Isaiah begins with these words “The burden of Egypt.”  I always get this onerous sense of dread whenever the word ‘burden’ shows up in prophetic Scriptures….usually not a harbinger of good things to come! (at least for one of the parties involved!)  So it is here – “…the LORD shall…come into Egypt; and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.”  Note that this reaction is just to His presence – He hasn’t even taken any actions yet.  He just arrived on the scene.  Afterwards of course, chaos ensues.  But my point is that there comes a moment when He arrives. And things begin changing.

Which is what I suspect is the real force behind the Arab Spring.

In this world, in a material/technical or motivational sense, nothing exists apart from some form of impurity or pollution.  That is simply the nature of earthly reality.  But possible Islamic maneuverings aside, before or during, previously or at present (and I really have trouble believing that these maneuverings aren’t an element here, one way or another),  I believe at root, the spirit of liberty that is found in the LORD, and which I believe is the same Spirit that powered the American Revolutionary War, is at work again today, in 2011, in these burdened lands of & around once-ancient Egypt.

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“…God uses the sword for surgery, not anarchy.”  (Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible, pg.384)

I like the sound of that!  This statement is made as part of a commentary on Chapter 19 of Isaiah, and points us forward in time and history.  Though it has surely seemed impossible in the past, and hard to believe even now, God has plans for ‘Egypt’ that may surprise you.  I know they’ve floored me…let’s move ahead to the end of this chapter.

“In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.”  (v. 24,25)

With God, nothing shall be impossible.

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It Started Way before 9/11…

In the days following September 11, 2001, I heard something like this from the Lord : that He took no pleasure in that horrendous, vicious wounding of our nation. While many who stood behind pulpits, or listened from pews in front of them, preached judgment on America for her sins, I heard something else. I heard that a silent poison had been spreading, and was far more advanced than we knew. Stopping its spread required perseverance and a ’never forget’ mentality, and these in turn required such a wounding as the catastrophic tragedy that took place in New York city that morning. A lesser event could fade from memory, and not elicit the sustained vigilance necessary to combat terrorism and preserve our land.

This was how I understood what I believed was shared with me that day.

Today, I understand more. I understand the poison that had been spreading was, and is, something other than ‘terrorism’, in the sense that we, as ’Westerners’ know it. It is what produces that terrorism – an ideology that has been at work in our world for centuries. I would go so far as to say, it goes back to Biblical times, to Old Testament Israel, even to the Genesis creation accounts. It is, at root, the eternal conflict between the Most High and the one who presumed to say, “I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:14) And, in fact, its origins may be even deeper than this, in a sense – the boiled-down conflict is between law and grace.

While the Adversary desires to enslave, He who alone is God wants to set us free.

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I cannot emphasize enough how much Jesus came to set men free. I am so very, very clear on that. He knows the end from the beginning, and most certainly, looking down the corridors of time in ages past, saw the condition of our world today. The Ancient of Days knew. By His blood, in the New Covenant, He provided miraculously, fully and finally, for this condition which exists in man, and through man, produces chaos in the environment. (Even trying to reverse this chaos often only exacerbates it!) Man’s finest yet remains flawed, but a better Way has been given to us.

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They wanted a King !….or, The Evils of Monarchy

“And ye have this day rejected your God…ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us.” (1 Samuel 10: 19, KJV)
It almost breaks my heart to read through the eighth chapter of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament. It was so not in the heart of the LORD to place an earthly king over the people of Israel. He could not have been any more clear, nor more specific, in His warnings to the people regarding such a form of ‘leadership’. But “Nevertheless the people refused…and they said, Nay, but we will have a king over us:” (1 Samuel 8: 19, KJV) Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible (p.235) points out that, in those days (and I point out, in days yet to come!) “having a king mean{t} conscription, forced labour, taxation, and loss of personal liberty. But even this does not deter them.”
Now wouldn’t you think such dire consequences as outlined in 1 Samuel would stop Israel dead-in-their-tracks, so to speak, as concerns demanding a king? Plus, the LORD spoke his warning through the prophet Samuel, a man of God well-known by all, and a force to be reckoned with. If the people would’ve listened to any human, it surely would’ve been Samuel. But Biblical history tells us otherwise. The elders of Israel “said unto him, Behold…make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” (1Samuel 8: 5, KJV)
ooo
We see here the tendency of man to progress towards ‘kingly government’. It may surprise you to learn that this concept was expressed by Benjamin Franklin, during Revolutionary times!
His concerns for American liberty seem to mirror those of the ancient prophet of Israel. “I am apprehensive, therefore…that the Government of these States may in future times end in a monarchy.” (Albert H. Smythe, ed.,The Writings of Benjamin Franklin) Franklin believed that the American citizenry might eventually fall under the illusion of ‘kingly government’ providing equality among all. (W. Cleon Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap) In a word, security? Which engenders survival, promotes happiness and makes possible liberty and its enjoyment. (Another way of phrasing “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”?) Author Michael Novak writes “liberty needs the sunny warmth of culture and ideas and the nourishing rain of favorable institutions of politics and economics.” (The Universal Hunger for Liberty) Conditions must be right, as with the blossoming of any planted seed. Franklin and other Founders shared with the prophet Samuel a great concern for the manner in which those conditions were courted.
In this lure towards ‘kingly government’ which so troubled Ben Franklin, and the clamor of ancient Israel for the same, I see the deceitfulness of law (as opposed to grace) wreaking its havoc. I see in the physical world the demonstration of a spiritual dynamic. Many people seek a structured formula (Old Testament law, or just plain law, period!) which, by adhering to it, will let them rest assured that, before God, they are ‘okay’. In similar manner, ‘kingly government’ will guarantee ‘security’, or equality. Everything will be ‘okay’.
Wrong. On both counts.
In God’s realm, “…by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” (Romans 3:20, KJV). Doesn’t work. Not gonna happen. Worse than a waste of time, because “the letter {of the Law} killeth.” (2 Corinthians 3:6, KJV). Conditions are not only NOT ‘okay’, they deteriorate into destruction.
In the earthly realm, government by a ‘king’, or monarch, has never worked, either. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to George Washington ( from Paris in 1788), wrote this: “ I was much an enemy to monarchies before I came to Europe. I am ten thousand times more so so since I have seen what they are. There is scarcely an evil known in these countries which may not be traced to their king as it source… ” (Edward Dumbault, ed., The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Ch.3, The Blessings of Free Government) Previously, in the spring of 1785, Jefferson had strongly urged James Monroe to visit him in Paris, for the express purpose of gaining a sharper, more clarified view of the American system of government compared to that of monarchical Europe. He wroteMy God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of and which no other people on earth enjoy. I confess I had no idea of it myself.” (Ibid.) Though Jefferson was fully aware of defects in the American system, as is true today still, his belief was that government of and for the People could be repaired and improved by the People – “whereas the evils of monarchical government are beyond remedy.” (Ibid.)
A single human ruler wielding all power is the formula for tyranny. And if you think about it, why would an individual even want to be all powerful? To dictate concerning the lives of others? The answers do not bode well for those under that individual’s rule. Reinforcing a god complex is one answer that occurs to me. Which brings to mind another Old Testament event, when Lucifer (which means ‘day star’, btw – interesting…) made this determination in his heart : “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13, 14, KJV) Intending to exalt one’s self as God, however, has this result: “…thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14: 15, KJV). God complexes are not healthy. They do not bring health to the people.
ooo
Power and authority are with God, and come from Him (Romans 13: 1). Our use of it, when it is in our jurisdiction to do so, whether in the family, on the job, or in the governing of a nation, needs always to be to protect and serve. The temptation is to abuse power, applying it to meet one’s own needs/desires – the challenge to effectively handle it requires His grace, which as its pre-requisite requires in turn our willingness to receive it.

Independence Day, 2009….by His grace!

“…My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” (Luke 1: 46,47, KJV)

As Americans across the nation, from purple mountains’ majesty to the congested streets of New York City, celebrate the Fourth of July, as indeed peoples from countries worldwide know of this our great commemoration of freedom, I find myself moved by this freedom as never before in my life.


How precious is our liberty.


How can that which is purchased by blood be anything less? What can compare to freedom?

How great our God, He who designed this plan and He who also brought it to pass. He, the firstfruits, and now we, the favored ones who daily partake of that which has been provided for us. It is true, we yet fight for freedom on foreign soil. But we did not have to fight in that unprecedented American revolution that necessitated the drafting and signing of our Declaration of Independence on this day, two hundred and thirty-three years ago. We, my friends, are the heirs to Liberty! We have been born with that silver spoon in our mouths!

Are we worthy? Only because He has so declared it. More and more, I marvel, why did God place me in the great United States of America? Who am I, or, as King David so eloquently wrote in the Psalms, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? It is essentially the same question I ask. My only answer dwells in God’s sovereignty, and His Word. He hath done, and He hath said, Amen.

“..this ball of liberty…will roll around the globe…for light and liberty go together. It is our glory that we first put it into motion.” ( Thomas Jefferson, June 1795 )


God bless America.


My fellow Americans, may your Independence Day be a favored one.