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Archive for the ‘Exhortation’ Category

I am not ashamed . . .

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is none righteous; no not one. The wages or just payment for sin is death. It is appointed that each man and woman shall die once and face the judgment of God.

But God, while we were yet sinners and enemies of God, sent His only begotten Son to die a substitutionary death that our fellowship with God might be restored. That the hand of judgment might pass over those who accept the sacrifice of Jesus on their behalf.

Jesus rose on the 3rd day proving His sovereignty over all things including death. Look for His grave, and find it is empty. He is risen, and He alone has the words of eternal life.

There is one way, one truth, one God. No one comes to the Father except through the Son, Jesus.

Lie to yourself if you must to continue in your rebellion, but absolute truth will stand.

Consider Romans 1:18-32. Is that the end you seek?

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Two mountains which figure prominently in the Bible when taken together, represent the character of God.  One mountain is characterized  by a consuming fire.  On that mountain, God displayed His judgment and His holiness.  The other mountain is characterized by blood and sacrifice.  On that mountain, God displayed His consuming love and mercy.

Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai is the backdrop for Israel’s receipt of the Law.  The mountain is where God met Moses and is primarily characterized by fire:

  • Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.  Exodus 19:18
  •  The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.  Exodus 24:17
  • Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness.  Deuteronomy 4:11
  •  The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire.  Deuteronomy 5:4
  •  Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.  Deuteronomy 9:10
Mount Zion
The other mountain is Mount Zion (found within the land given to the tribe of Judah).   Mt. Zion was sometimes called The City of David, and descriptions of Mt. Zion paint a very different picture from those describing Mt. Sinai:
  • Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old, The tribe of Your inheritance, which You have redeemed-This Mount Zion where You have dwelt.  Psalm 74:2
  • But chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved.  Psalm 78:68
  •  Those who trust in the LORD Are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.  Psalm 125:1
  • And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.  Joel 2:32
  • Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.  Revelation 14:1

Paul makes the case for the two mountains in his letter to the Hebrews:

For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. . . . And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”  Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.   Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.  Hebrews 12:18-29

It is the same God of both mountains, so we should keep both mountains in view:

  • one where God laid down His law, a place of judgment.
  • one where God laid down His life, a perfect sacrifice, a place of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
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Is your life crazy busy?  Do you have a husband, kids, grandkids a house, a job, another job or just commitments?  We live busy lives, spent rushing from one thing to the next with little time for spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, Bible study or simply listening to God.

In his letter to Timothy in 1Timothy 2:1-4, Paul offers some ideas on how to have “quiet” in our daily lives, and he provides the rationale for doing so.  “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

How do I have “quiet”?

  • Supplications (humble prayer, entreaty, or petition)
  • Prayers (a spiritual communion with God)
  • Intercessions (a prayer to God on behalf of another)
  • Giving thanks for all men, for kings and all who are in authority
Why is this important?
Paul offers the following by way of reason for seeking to lead “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence:”
  • It is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior
The center of living the quiet and peaceable life is relationship with the Father, through the finished work of the Son.  We can come boldly to the throne of grace because of Jesus, our High Priest.

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Sometimes we are told to “Make a joyful shout to the LORD” (Psalm 100) and  “Praise Him with clashing cymbals! (Psalm 150)”  Other times, we can be quiet.

We can be quiet in His strength

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says,  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The picture here is of oxen pulling a plow or a wagon.  The two animals would be yoked together.   A yoke is “a device for joining together a pair of draft animals, especially oxen, usually consisting of a crosspiece with two bow-shaped pieces, each enclosing the head of an animal.”  In order to be yoked together, animals must be comparable in size, stamina and desire to work.   This provides an important spiritual lesson to the believer.

When we are yoked to Jesus, we go where He goes (by necessity).  Because of the yoke, we must look at what He looks at, see what He sees.  By being joined together like this, we benefit from His wisdom and His strength, and we can just be quiet.  Sometimes it is good to just walk alongside Jesus, yoked to Him, quietly learning from Him.

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Will you be like Judas and serve Christ with a kiss of betrayal?

Do you come and “kiss the ring” on Sunday morning, serving God, worshiping with the people of God, nodding at the finer points of the  Pastor’s sermon and then live like a heathen the rest of the week?  Isn’t that exactly what Judas did?  Didn’t he walk daily with Jesus, watch the miracles, hang with the disciples and do the “spiritual” things like saying the previous oil in the alabaster box should be sold to generate money for the poor, and then didn’t he sell Jesus out to his enemies for 30 pieces of silver?  Is that you?  Pious with the church folks and down and dirty with the unsaved, passing off your church attendance as mere amusement, something you do for your parents, kids or spouse?  Be careful you don’t live like Judas, by the kiss.

Will you be like Peter and seek to serve the LORD by the flesh and the sword?

Maybe you are more like Peter.  God speaks to you and shows you His truth, but rather than wait on the LORD, you rush ahead in your flesh and cut off the ears of those who don’t yet know God.  Maybe you rely on your own wisdom to argue with the unsaved, driving them farther from Jesus.  Maybe when God draws you into the company of Godly men or women, all you can speak of is building a tent for them, forgetting about the close presence of God in your zeal to show partiality to men.  Be careful you don’t seek to serve Jesus by the flesh and the sword.  It will only leave you and those around you wounded.

Or will you be like Jesus, who when called to serve God, obeyed drinking the cup

The cup that Jesus drank from was no simple thing.  Three times He begged God to take it from Him always asking for God’s will first.  Will you be like Jesus?  Will you seek first God’s plan, God’s way, God’s purpose and despite the pain, discomfort or sheer terror you feel in the face of it, will you, like Jesus, drink the cup God offers you?  Will you be like Jesus, obedient to death, a death on the cross?  A death of torture and humiliation?  Will you then, in the midst of your torture and humiliation, count those for whom you suffer “joy”?  Serve God by drinking the cup.  Serve God by obeying Him with every fiber of your being, even your last breath.

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Have you sung that song “As the Deer Panteth for the waters so my soul longeth after thee . . ?”   I was thinking about that line today, about the thirsty deer.  Does the deer drink and then go away for a week before returning to drink again?  Does the deer drink because it thinks the other deer are watching it?   Does the deer fill its cantine and walk away from the stream for a time in the desert only returning when it is near death from thirst?  No.  The deer comes daily and throughout the day and drinks when it experiences genuine thirst.  It stays near the stream and doesn’t wander so far as to not be able to get back when it experiences thirst.  It does not try to take care of future thirst or worry from where the next drink will come.  The deer relies on its heavenly Father to tell it when it thirsts and to provide a means to satisfy that thirst.

So what spiritual lessons is the Psalmist teaching me in describing this thirst like the deer?

  • It is a thirst that longs for and can be satisfied by the water. I should thirst for the living water, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and seek to be satisfied by the Word and the Holy Spirit.  It is a natural law that appetite is developed by eating.  Thirst, too can be developed by drinking.  I should drink of the living water and thereby develop a thirst which it alone can quench.
  • It is a thirst that seeks quenching daily, hourly and as the need arises. I should seek to slake (ally or reduce by satisfying) my thirst daily and hourly, if need be, by coming to the font of living water, to Jesus who promises to satisfy my thirst.  I should stay close to the source of living water.
  • It is a thirst that has no other motive than to satisfy the basic need. When I come to the water to drink, my motive should be to quench my thirst, not to fulfill some man-made obligation or ritual or the expectations of others.
  • It is a thirst that trusts in the creator to provide a means of satisfying it. I must come to quench my thirst to the one who created it.  I must trust God to provide the means for satisfying my thirst and not seek to have that need filled somewhere else.

May you be like the deer who pants for the water brooks.  May your genuine thirst for God be quenched by the living water of the Word and fellowship with the One who promises to bring forth rivers of living water from the lives of those who believe in Him.

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Isaiah 41:10 reads as follows:  “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

  • Fear Not – He only says this because He knows I will be filled with fear.
  • For I am with you – He understands my  frame – that I don’t want to be alone, that when He is with me, I feel less afraid, and I can go a little further.
  • Be not dismayed – The definition of dismayed is “to be filled with dread or apprehension, to be anxious or afraid, to lose confidence or courage in the face of trouble or danger.”  That pretty well describes me.  I am am confident and courageous until the trouble comes.
  • For I am your God – When I fully grasp the meaning and implication of this concept – the God of creation, the Almighty God, the One who parted the Red Sea and held back the flooded Jordon, the One who raised Jesus from the dead – He says of me, “I am your God.”  What more could I need?
  • I will strengthen you – He knows I am left weak from the fear.
  • Yes, I will help you – He is reassuring me.  He alone is my help and my deliverer.
  • I will uphold you with my righteous right hand – In the end, I will stand because He is holding me up.  It is His justice, His righteousness that will allow me to stay the course.

Beloved, do not be afraid.  Our God will supply all your needs through Christ Jesus.  He is with you.  He will never leave or forsake you.

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