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Archive for the ‘the Father’ Category

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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Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.  And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”  This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.

But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.   So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

 She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  

John 8:2-11

OBSERVATIONS:

Where is it taking place?

  • In the temple, the center of religious teaching, the (only) place where the presence of God dwelt on earth

Who is involved in the story?

  • Scribes and Pharisees – religious leaders and experts in the law
  • Adulterous woman – found in the “very act of adultery” and so has violated God’s law  (Exodus 20:14)

Why do they bring her to Jesus?

  • Pharisees and scribes thought they could trap Jesus.  Either He was the Messiah, sent from God, or he was a fraud.  If He was soft on the law, it was proof He was not Messiah.  Jesus had been meeting with sinners, eating with tax collectors and thereby showing a very lax view of God’s law and those who violate it.
  • They were trying to discredit Him.

Who’s missing?

  • Adultery is a 2-person crime – Where’s the man?

Old Testament imagery?

  • Jesus writes with His finger (same way God wrote on the tablets at Mount Sinai)
  • Maybe He was writing out the 10 Commandments
  • Maybe He is writing their names next to the various commandments – the scripture says that they are convicted
  • Jesus proves that He is God by knowing secret sins of people whose sin is not well known
APPLICATION

Remarkably, Jesus could have, with His obvious knowledge of things, condemned her, but He chooses not to be a witness against her.

Similarly, God is not in the business of, nor does He desire to be a witness against you.  Rather, God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

This is not to say that Jesus (God incarnate) is soft on sin.  He knows the law.  He wrote the law.  Don’t be confused or misled, one day (maybe sooner than you planned) He is coming to judge.  Come to Him now, when His purposes towards you are forgiveness and restoration.  Later His purposes will be only judgment

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.  John 5:24


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Hosea, a prophet of the Lord, was told by God to marry a prostitute.  The exact words are (in the New King James version), “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry.”  It is the weirdest thing.  Here is a man who is in God’s service, held to follow God’s law and speaking with God’s voice, but God wants him to marry a woman who would have been seen as “unclean” and certainly not what his mother and father were hoping for.  It must have caused quite a stir, a nice Jewish boy raised in the temple, marrying a whore.

Nevertheless, desiring to please God more than men, Hosea marries a harlot and his wife has children that the Bible says are not Hosea’s.  She even leaves him at one point and returns to prostitution.  It seemingly turns from bad to worse when God sends Hosea after his unfaithful wife, after she betrays him and returns to a life of prostitution.  Hosea, at God’s command, goes to find his wife who is “loved by a lover and is committing adultery”.  Hosea buys her back for fifteen shekels of silver.  He purchases the woman who betrayed him at a slave auction.

What is God saying in this story?   God said that He so loved the world that He gave His son that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.  Hosea tells the story of what God means by “whoever”.  “Whoever” is not limited to those who read their Bible or who make it to church on Sunday.  “Whoever” is not limited to those who have managed to stay out of trouble or  . . . insert what you like.  “Whoever” is Gomer, Hosea’s wife, the harlot who marries a Godly man, leaves him and commits adultery and ends up a slave, sold on the block for fifteen shekels.  This is a picture of God’s heart:  He comes after us to where we are lost in sin and bondage, even sin and bondage of our own choosing.  He seeks us out as we are being sold on the block as slaves.  He will pay the price for us and take us home with Him and make us His children, His heirs.

In fact, He has paid the price.  That is His amazing love!

No matter where you are, no matter what you have done, no matter how low you feel, Your heavenly Father is nearby.  He is looking for you.  His arms are open.

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Attached is a poem about being safe in the Father’s arms.

SAFE

May the LORD bless you and keep you today and always.

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I re-read a journal entry that I had written about an extended trial I was going through.  In the entry, I was crying out to God asking how I would ever be able to go forward.  I was tired and out of strength.  The path was totally hidden from view by the fog of uncertainty.  The LORD showed me Psalm 20:1-6.  The message was that He would minister to me out of my existing relationship with Him.

I think the message for all of us is to always (whether in trials or in times of peace) be in close relationship with God.  Is God your BFF (Best Friend Forever)?  He should be.

Psalm 20:1 says, “May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you.”  To answer you, the LORD must hear you.  For God’s name to defend you, you must be associated with or be called by God’s name.  To be called by God’s name is to be in close relationship with God, even as close as a child.

Psalm 20:2 provides, “May He send you help from the sanctuary, And strengthen you out of Zion.”  To send you help, He must know what you need and where to deliver it.  The Sanctuary was the Old Testament place where God was (c.f. the New Testament where God’s spirit dwells in the believer).  This statement can best be understood as a promise that God will send you help from where He dwells.  He will send believers to be your help, your brothers and sisters in Christ will be ministers of God to you.  Also God will minister directly to you by His spirit dwelling within you as a believer.

Psalm 20:3 goes on to say, “May He remember all your offerings, And accept your burnt sacrifice.”  The offerings were part of the worship of God in the Old Testament.  It would be like saying today, “May God remember all the sincere worship in which you engaged.”  The burnt sacrifice was the sacrifice to deal with sin.  It is described in the Old Testament as “a sweet aroma to the LORD.”  God is pleased by the sweet smell of our offerings.  As we lay our lives down for others in obedience, as we practice gentleness, self-control, patience, long-suffering and love, we sacrifice up our flesh and what it wants.  That sacrifice is pleasing to God.  He promises to remember that.

In the next 3 verses, Psalm 20:4-6, we read the following:  “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, And fulfill all your purpose.  We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.  Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.”   From the relationship with God, comes fulfillment.  This is not just the idea of getting what you want, but rather of having the one who hears, answers, claims, defends, helps, strengthens and remembers you bring to you the best things – things that will satisfy your deepest longing and fulfill your very reason for being.  That is what God does daily for those who are called according to His purposes and called according to His name.

May the God of all creation be your BFF!

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I Stand

I wrote the following poem to answer the question, “Why do I stand and lift my hands during worship?”

I Stand

May God bless and keep you.

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A Father’s Love

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.   John 3:16

It would seem God gave us the picture of a father and his son, so we could better understand his love. For who is it that God would call to be saved who wouldn’t have a parent, even if that parent were absent, abusive or neglectful. We all are someone’s child, and many of us have our own children. We all understand, even if not from personal experience, that the parent- child relationship is intended to be a life-long bond that withstands all attacks, a bond of the heart.

I lost my father at the age of three. Despite having a step-father for most of my life, the loss of my father colored my life. Every major life step or accomplishment, I thought of him and wondered what he would say. His absence was noticeable. Every Father’s Day, I am reminded of what I lost.

The point is that God wanted us to understand the depth of his love for us, the love of a parent, a loving father who considers what is best for us, who wants to protect and nurture us. It is also this father who will sacrifice the most important thing for us – his son. We understand the depth of the sacrifice as reflected in the relationship lost, father losing son. We can only begin to understand this love of God for us by looking at the sacrifice.

Consider the story of Abraham and Issac, a Biblical illustration of a father’s call by God to sacrifice his son. It can be found in Genesis 22 starting in verse 1. Abraham is a type of God the Father and Issac, a type of Jesus. Abraham loved Issac. He had waited many years for God to fulfill his promise to give him a son. Sarah was Abraham’s wife whom he loved very much. This was the only child of their union, received some 60 plus years into their marriage. He was a treasure to his father in his old age.

Issac was likely a grown man at the time that these events took place. He followed his father’s instructions to go up with him to the mountain. Issac would have known that a sacrifice was needed when he set off on the journey with his father. Scripture tells us that once up on the mountain, Abraham bound Issac. We know that Issac would have had to have gone along with it since he was a grown man and Abraham was well over 100 years old at the time. After binding him, Abraham laid him upon the altar of wood. Imagine that act. Put yourself in Abraham’s place. Picture yourself building an altar, binding up your grown child and taking out a knife and preparing to slay your child, the love of your life. I have trouble walking myself through it even in my mind’s eye when I see the face of my child peering at me from the pile of wood, asking me with her eyes what I am intending. In the end, God stops Abraham short of the sacrifice and accounts Abraham’s faith and obedience as righteousness. Abraham does not need to sacrifice his son to show his love for God; however, God did have to sacrifice His Son to show His love to a lost world and to pay the price for their sin.

The relationship between father and son is used to show us about our relationship with God, e.g. the intimacy, the reverence, the provision, protection and other attributes of God; however, it is also used to evidence for us the depth of the sacrifice that God made in securing our salvation, and the obedience of the son to the father in walking out that plan.

The death of Jesus on the cross some 2000+ years ago was no accident, no unforeseen consequence, rather He willingly gave up His life, became the sacrifice for me and for you. Matthew 20:28 says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Paul confirms this in his first letter to Timothy, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” 1 Tim. 2:5.

Meditate on the sacrificial love described in John 3:16 and the other scriptures discussed here, and ask the Lord to reveal to you what He would have you to understand about His great love for you.

Write down 3 ways God has manifest his great love for you in your life. This could include ways he has protected you, opened the way for you, comforted you in time of trial or pain, restored you, etc.)

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