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Archive for the ‘Attributes’ Category

Poetry: Grace

How much, preventing God, how much I owe

To the defences thou hast round me set;

Example, custom, fear, occasion slow, —

These scorned bondmen were my parapet.

I dare not peep over this parapet

To gauge with glance the roaring gulf below,

The depths of sin to which I had descended,

Had not these me against myself defended

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

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God, You have been too good to me,
You don’t know what You’ve done.
A clod’s too small to drink in all
The treasure of the sun.
 
The picture fills the lifted cup
And still the blessings pour
They overbrim the shallow rim
With cool refreshing store.
 
You are too prodigal with joy, 
Too careless of its worth,
To let the stream with crystal gleam
Fall wasted on the earth.
 
Let many thirsty lips draw near
And quaff the greater part!
There still will be too much for me
To hold in one glad heart.
 
    –Charles Wharton Stork

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Romans 12: Holy?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  Romans 12:1

What does it mean for me to be holy?

According to the dictionary, holy  is defined as:  “of, relating to, or associated with God or a deity.”  It can also mean “sacred” or “endowed or invested with extreme purity or sublimity; 3. devout, godly, or virtuous]

Often when I have heard holiness taught on, it is explained as being “Set apart to God” or the idea of being “separate” from the world and/or the things of the world.

But isn’t it usually God who is described as holy?    The answer is that God is holy, but the Bible is clear that the believer, the child of God, is to be holy as well.
  • Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love   Ephesians 1:4
  • That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish  Ephesians 5:27
  • For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.  1 Thessalonians 4:7
  • But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:15-16
 The idea of holiness among the children of God is not limited to the New Testament.  The following are Old Testament references that teach this as well:
  • Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.  Leviticus 19:2
  • For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.  Leviticus 11:44
 Holiness is necessary in order to please God, and for that reason we need to diligently seek it in our lives.  Hebrews 12:12.

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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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The LORD promises that with His love He will quiet us.  In Zephaniah 3:17, the prophet tells us, “The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

The picture is perhaps of the child who buries her face in the bosom of a parent; the small body shaking with sobs.  The parent speaks soft words, sings gentle songs of reassurance until the sobbing subsides.

This is a picture of our Heavenly Father.  He will hold you to His bosom as you pour out your sorrow, your fear, your loss, your frustration, or whatever is stealing your “quiet.”  In that moment, He whispers to you of His great love for you.  Knowing of His love, being reminded again of how much He loves you, all His promises to you, you become quiet.  He has quieted you with His love.

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Given the pervasive nature of fear, it seems wise for us to consider more of what the Bible would teach us about fear and fighting fear.

On the nature of fear . . . 

  • There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  1John 4:18
  • The love of God for us is perfect love.  When we walk in the love of God, in fellowship with Him, abiding in His word and living by His Spirit, we can experience a life free of fear.  In fellowship with God, the torment must flee and the Spirit of God brings peace, the peace that passes understanding.
On why we shouldn’t fear . . .
  • Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.  Matthew 10:26
  • Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32 (Jesus speaking)
Without fear, it is possible to have peace
  • You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3
With God, we have a remedy for our fear.  Look to Jesus, author and finisher of our faith.  Focus on what God has done, is doing and will do.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus . . . look full in His wonder face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

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What does the future hold? . . .  How will I keep my house without a job? . . . What will I do if my spouse gets ill and can’t work? . . .  What if my spouse leaves me? . . . What if no one loves me? . . . Who will help me when I get older? . . .  How will my child make it in the world? . . . What’s that noise upstairs? . . . Who’s at the door at this time of night?

Big and small, fears are our constant companions.  Fear is one of the universals of the human condition.  We all have fears.  Perhaps that is why the Bible mentions fear and commands us not to fear so many times.

We can learn some important things from the Bible about fear.
There is only One to fear . . . 
  • Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Matthew 10:28
Fear not because God is with you . . .
  • 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.  Behold, all those who were incensed against you Shall be ashamed and disgraced; They shall be as nothing, And those who strive with you shall perish.  You shall seek them and not find them-Those who contended with you. Those who war against you Shall be as nothing, As a nonexistent thing. For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’  Isaiah 41:10-13
Don’t fear because God will not leave you . . . 
  • Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6
Fight fear with the Word of God.  When you are afraid, remember what God has said and remember that God cannot lie.  What He promises, He will do.

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