Tag Archives: Truth

What God Gave Up for Lent – Day 3

3. In Whose Image

Bull

Many bulls have surrounded me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me. They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring lion. (Psalm 22:12-13)

The bulls represent those who have power and wealth that have surrounded Christ. They come before Him in their robes and fineries, with their rings, bracelets, and crowns, wagging and pointing, while the King of Glory is nailed to the cross stripped bare. Is it any wonder how easily wealth blinds us to the truth.

Why were bulls now become a ravening and roaring lion? Ravening means to tear to pieces. This shows the hatred and animosity the enemies of Christ have toward Him, seeking to devour Him so there would be no trace. Although their tactics have changed, this is still the goal of the enemies of Christ two millennia later.  False religions, cults, liberal and tolerant theologies seek to confiscate from history and memory the authentic and Biblical Christ. They seek to cast off the authority and sovereignty that only the King of kings and Lord of lords can wield, and none can take it from Him. So now, today, they have an easier target, they attack the Church; seeking to discredit us; render us irrelevant and impotent. And unfortunately, they have often been successful at this.

There’s irony within this imagery. Bulls, start out as calves; and this was the image the sons of Israel conjured up in the wilderness when they needed an image to worship ( Ex 32). Before Moses could deliver the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, man was trying to define God. For how many days and nights had they seen the power, guidance and care of God manifest as a pillar of fire by night, and a pillar of cloud by day? But it’s tough to create and worship such a manifestation. Yet even with their limited exposure to Him, they felt there was not enough of a deterrent to not create their image of The Most High; and soon all sorts of false theology followed.

Even now, in the 21st century, we still try to make God in our own image (or some other sort of image—pick one). And as such he, she, or it, is easily put aside, and only brought out and dusted off when needed. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. ( Rom 1:20-23)

Somewhere, somehow we need to remind humanity of what they already know: His [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature; and in such a way that is not so easily set aside. But how do we do that?

Christ is known as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah: I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” ( Rev 5:1-5).

We see from the above narrative, that in all of creation, there is none who is worthy to open the seals other than Christ. But man in his arrogance and pride, sees himself as one with power and authority. And even though he may convince himself and others of such a claim for a season, there is only One who is worthy and has such authority. Will you accept your true place before God now, humbly accept Him as Lord? Otherwise you will be constrained to do so later, at the judgment.

Save

Save

Singing with the King (73) – In Praise of Judgment

Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. (Psalm 96:11-13)

Judges gavel with  old paperThis psalm begins on a grandiose scale: Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Nothing less than “the whole earth” is to sing to the LORD. The verses continue to crescendo until, in these final few verses, all of creation joins in the song. The heavens are glad; the earth rejoices; the sea and all its creatures shout His praise; the fields and crops burst with joy; and the trees sing.

That is a pretty remarkable chorus.

But why are they glad, and why are they rejoicing? Why are they praising and singing? Because He is coming to judge. What? All of creation is getting stirred up, tuned up, and geared up because God is going to judge the earth? Frankly, I don’t see a reason for such a production. Doing all that for His love, or His grace, or His mercy—that I can see, and I would even join in. But judgment?

Now I’ve got to admit that my view of judges and judgment is a bit skewed. Because I look at such things in our country and I see little reason to rejoice. In fact there is a verse in Psalm 11 which describes our current state of degradation:  “The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:4)

The good news is Scripture tells us what judgment looks like—God-style.

God is an honest judge. (Psalm 11:7)

He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. (Psalm 9:8)

It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall. (Psalm 75:7)

Rise up, O God, and judge the earth, for all the nations belong to you. (Psalm 82:8)

And at the end of the above Psalm it says: He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth. (vs. 13b)

We see that God’s brand of judgment requires honesty, justice, fairness, and truth. If you just consider truth, and how it has been dismissed, is there any wonder why man’s judgment is critically flawed? It also says that He alone is worthy, and since everything belongs to Him, then He alone is rightful.

And when you see God’s version of judgment, then you realize that it will be something to rejoice about. But until that day comes, you must remember: The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (1 Peter 3:9)

Now balance that with this request: They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?”(Revelation 6:10)

Fear His judgment, or praise His judgment. The choice is yours.

Singing with the King (61) – True & Trust

For the Word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything He does. (Psalm 33:4)

bible lampThere are two words in this verse which are either lost, or come at a premium, depending on your worldview. They are true and trust. And trust cannot exist without truth. So let’s tackle true first.

The Hebrew word for true is most often translated as right and upright. Now, it only makes sense the Word of God is true (right and upright) because God is true.

Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth. (Psalm 25:5)

But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. (Psalm 86:15)

This is not, however, an unknowable attribute. Why? First because He has given us His Word, and it can be learned:

Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day. (Psalm 25:5)

And it causes us to worship:

I will also praise You with a harp, even Your truth, O my God; to You I will sing praises with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. (Psalm 71:22)

Sun on PlainsWhat does it mean that the Word of the Lord holds true? Some of the definitions of true are straight and level. God will go great lengths to speak to us: A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.   Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5) It should be noted these were the words quoted by John the Baptist as he began his ministry, soon to proclaim the coming of Christ. Things would be level, straight and plain; then glory of the Lord would be revealed—Jesus would be revealed.

Next comes the trust. We can trust Him because He is faithful:

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. (Psalm 40:4)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Faithfulness is used often to describe God’s character and His acts. But faithfulness in Hebrew has a secondary translation: truth (also a character trait). We as a society have pretty much given up on truth. It has been relegated to a matter of personal preference and opinion. But are we willing to give up on faithfulness? With God it is both, as proclaimed in His character, His Word, and His acts. You cannot separate one from another. God is true. God is faithful. And because of that, you can trust everything He does.

Singing with the King (41) – A Lock on Religion

He has revealed his words to Jacob, His decrees and regulations to Israel. He has not done this for any other nation; they do not know his regulations. (Psalm 147:19-20)

lock and keyIt’s easy to understand why the Pharisees we so comfortable with their religion—they believed they had a lock on access to the One True God. The also believed they had a lock on the location: For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. (2 Chronicles 7:16)

In fact, they believed all nations would only come to His mountain (Jerusalem) to worship: Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it.  And 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; that He may teach us concerning His ways  and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:22-3)

And: All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and they shall glorify Your name. (Psalm 86:9)

And they were right…

But then something wondrous happened: Jesus came. And in a rather significant conversation with someone He shouldn’t have had a conversation with (a Samaritan woman), Christ changes all that exclusivity talk: Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24)

lock and key 2We see, as Christ said, that salvation comes through the Jews, it starts with the Jews. But it’s no longer about the Mosaic ritual; rather it’s about worshiping in spirit and truth, for God is spirit. Those who will worship in spirit and truth Lord may do so from any where. This was great news for the Samaritans (see John 4:39-42) and for us Gentiles. This then gives a different interpretation to the above passage from Psalm 86. We can now come and worship before You, O Lord, any where and at any time. This is what Christ has accomplished for us. Why not worship Him now?

Singing with the King (25) – One Thing: (1) Priority

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD. (Psalm 27:4)

At the CrossOut of all the myriad of choices that one can make, there really is only one. When all of our excuses, questions, posings, musings, debates, and complaints are exhausted, we are left with one inescapable truth: there is none other to whom we can turn; none other who can deliver and protect us; none other who can love and care for us; for You alone are God. (Nehemiah 9:6) And to deny this places our eternal soul in peril, and places us in opposition to God, rather than in His care.

David understood this; that is why his desire was to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD.

One thing. This is a very unifying approach to life, to faith—to whatever. The Hebrew text could actually say: One one I have asked. It may sound redundant, but think about it. Life is filled with one things that we must do, that need our attention. But what is the one One? Or should I say, Who is the one One. Four areas of your life will be changed forever by making the Lord, The One: Priority, Perspective, Purpose, and Practice.

Priority:

Not only Putting God First, but Only

You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:3)

The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all it contains, You have founded them. (Psalm 89:11)

I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. (Isaiah 45:5)

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ (Mark 12:29-30)

We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. (Hebrews 12:2)

Here’s where it all starts. There is no doubt Who our priority must be. He must be the One one-thing. To have God as our priority places our life within the proper context—we are where we were made to be. To have God as our priority puts Him where He is to be: Alpha and Omega, both in nature and in relationship.

 

Singing with the King (15) – Promises, Promises

I will sing your praises forever and will always keep my promises. (Psalm 61:8)

I PromiseAlways is a pretty tough word to keep. When was the last time you broke your promise? The punishment for such a breach is quite severe:

The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.   The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.  (Deuteronomy 19:18-20)

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who tells lies will perish. (Proverbs 19:9)

It could be weeks, months, or years; or just in the last few minutes. It could have been huge, or it could have been small. Maybe you ran out of time. Or it got too complicated. Or it was hurting too much. Or maybe, you had no intention of keeping your promise in the first place. Consider the following:

Who may stay in God’s temple or live on the holy mountain of the Lord? Only those who obey God
and do as they should. They speak the truth and don’t spread gossip; they treat others fairly and don’t say cruel things. They hate worthless people, but show respect for all  who worship the Lord.
And they keep their promises, no matter what the cost. (Psalm 15:1-3)

He who walks in integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will be found out. (Proverbs 10:9)

Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:45)

Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Whether keeping your word, or your promises, may your character reflect the Lord Jesus Christ.