God Reveals Himself – Psalm 18:25-27

God Reveals Himself Experientially

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
27 You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Opportune Observation

Everywhere in the Bible, we see God revealing Himself.  He does so through His word.  He reveals His amazing character through His interaction with His creation. We have the wonderful opportunity to observe through reading God’s word exactly how He interacts with us in the universe that He created.  We have been provided the perfect place to keenly observe, without filter or pretense, what has gone on before.  This gives us a better perspective of what we should expect from our God, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Experiential Encounter

But He goes much deeper than that.  As we start on the path of reconciliation with God through repentance and sanctification, we begin to desire to experience God on a more personal level.  The only way to do that is to walk with someone.

When you walk with someone, you have the opportunity to share in the life-experiences of that person.  You are there when things happen, and are immediately impacted by the results of the circumstances that you both encounter.  God does not merely want us to read about what He did yesterday (or a long time ago, in our cases); He wants to us personally be involved with Him in what He is doing today and what He is planning to do tomorrow.

Jesus called us to follow Him.  The Greek word for follow is akoloutheo.  It means to walk alongside someone, shoulder to shoulder, if you will, almost as if you were in lock-step with them.

Relational Relevance

When we being to experience God’s character by walking with Him, He reveals Himself in a greater and deeper way to us.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

In the case of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals that to those who exhibit the Godly character of Mercy, He will reveal Himself by being Merciful to them.  The benefits of experiencing God’s character is that God makes it real to us as we exhibit it.  It becomes experiential knowledge rather than just head-knowledge.

If a person always has food to eat, hunger truly isn’t real for them.  They may understand hunger at a simple level, maybe if they miss a meal, or fast for a short period of time.  But to truly understand hunger, a person must be in the position of not even having the option of eating for a very long time.  Whether that is self-imposed or imposed by circumstances, the reality of not even having the opportunity to eat reveals the nature of hunger as it affects those so afflicted.

Participatory Providence

While we are forgiven our sins at the time we confess Jesus as Savior, we are afforded a more intimate knowledge of the character of Almighty God.  To truly appreciate something, you generally have to pay for it yourself.  Then you begin to understand the sacrifice, effort, and cost of something.  Time, effort, and money are expended in the process that precludes the purchase of other things.  Everything comes at a price and, unless you have unlimited time, money, and skill, there are only so many choices that can be made.  Likewise, when we participate in the character of God, we give up the right to exercise other options that are available to us at the price of following the path of righteousness.

For instance, forgiveness comes at a three-fold cost.  First, there is the initial harm that we experience when we are wronged.  Second, there is loss as we give up all claim at justly recovering (if that is even possible) what was originally ours.  Finally, we suffer harm in knowing that justice for the offense will not occur (in the case of those whose sin has been forgiven.  In the case of those who refused to believe God in life, they will suffer the most grievous and just penalty for that in the Lake of Fire, and there justice is fully meted out).

Disciplinary Danger

We are warned by the Psalmist that we need to be careful in how we conduct ourselves with regards to character.  God reveals His character as a Just Judge when we exhibit ungodliness in our own character:

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

Even in the case of ungodly character, God reveals Himself to us as well, even if it is in a less pleasant manner and method.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I daily receiving a more experiential knowledge of God’s character?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have revealed Yourself to me in Your word.  Help me to put into practice all that I have read and learned, so that I may better experience Your character and understand the depth and breadth of the love that You have for me.  As I experience this, help me to better love my neighbor as myself, and love one another as You have loved me.  Help me to love You as You desire to be loved, and I pray that my character, daily, would more closely align with Yours until they are indistinguishable from each other.  I ask, Father, that You help me to yield myself to the Holy Spirit so that He can work more effortless through me and in me, that Your character would be on display for the world to see.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

God of Peace – 2 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Allow The God Of Peace To Sanctify You Completely

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Power in Peace

Paul reminds us that God is a God of peace.  Peace has several facets.  It indicates:

  • Unity and harmony in thought
  • The shedding of ill-will towards others
  • The working together of people towards a common goal

God is working towards all three of these, and desires to work them through us at a level that we cannot even begin to comprehend.  God sees the whole picture of reality, from when He spoke it into existence and throughout all eternity.  He is able to see what will be, and greatly desires us to yield to Him so that through sanctification, we will be completely at peace with both Him and others.

Sanctification after Salvation

Salvation has been arranged through the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ.  But now comes the next part – sanctification – the process of being changed from a creature that was bent towards sin and darkness towards a life dedicated to holiness and submission to God.  God loves us for who we are, but loves us too much to allow to stay the way we are.

Paul, who wrote a good portion of the writings of the New Testament of the Bible, said that even he, who had been to Heaven and came back, was not there yet.  Paul truly had been shown how much he would suffer for the name of Jesus.  He tirelessly preached the word of God to the Gentiles, in cities and in prisons.  He understood the need to walk a life worthy of the calling which he had received.  We are to do the same – to live a life that is holy and dedicated to God who paid such a great price to purchase us – redeem us – out of the slavery of sin.

Be Blameless

We are called to be blameless in body, soul, and spirit.  We are all each of these three things:

  • We each have a physical body that can be used for good or for evil.  What we do impacts us and others.  Everything that we do has significance and importance.  We are called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
  • We each have a soul.  This is our ability to think, make decisions, and implement the decisions in the body.  Our thought life is just as important as how we conduct our bodies in action.  Jesus warned the teachers of the law and the Pharisees that they were outwardly compliant with the law, but inwardly – in their thoughts and motivations – they were dead, filthy, corrupt, and unclean.  We are to keep our thoughts clean as well, capturing every thought to Christ.
  • And whether we realize it or not, our spirit is affected by what we do in the flesh and minds.  God, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, has made provision for the life of our spirit, alive to Him, and dead to sin.  We must now, through sanctification, put to death those things that would compromise the holiness of our spirit in Christ.

Forever Faithful

We can be assured God the Father is faithful in preparing us.  We need to be submitted to Him, and allow the trials and tribulations and hardships that will give Him the opportunity to mold and shape us from what we were into what He desires us to be.  Jesus has said that God is faithful, and no one can be snatched out of His grasp.  We can trust in the faithfulness of Almighty God to do all that He has said that He will do, for God does not lie, and is incapable of breaking His word.

As He sanctifies us, we are at greater peace with Him, moving from positional righteousness to a life of applied righteousness.  And we are also at greater peace with men as we submit to one another live lives that are focused on honoring God rather than serving our own interests.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I allowing God to sanctify me through His word to be at peace with others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I come to You today with thanksgiving in my heart for who You are and what You are doing in my life.  Prepare me to be the vessel that You desire for Your purposes.  Help me to be more at peace with people, and to live a life that is at peace with You.  Strengthen me in my weakness, and sanctify my body, soul, and spirit, so that they will be blameless on the great and terrible day that Your Son, Jesus Christ, returns.  Place within my heart a greater yearning that the lost would be saved, and help me to bring the message of salvation to them.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Trust in God – Matthew 1:18-25

Sometimes Trusting God Will Place You In Very Awkward Situations

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Social Scandal

In the birth of our Lord Savior, we have (yet another) scandal.  The seed of Abraham preferred that their line be “pure” – that all of their family be of the line of Israel.  Jesus’ line has some interesting bumps in the road:

  • Rahab, a prostitute in the walled city of Jericho who helped the spies of Joshua, was the wife of Salmon.  Together, they had a famous son – Boaz
  • Ruth, the Moabitess, was the wife of Boaz.  They bore a son, Obed, who also bore a son, Jesse.  And his son was none other than King David – a man after God’s own heart.

In just two generation of the family tree of David, who was anointed by Samuel at God’s request to be the second king of Israel, we see intrigue and scandal.  Talk about your “skeletons in the closet”!   But these were Godly women who feared God, and to them it was credited as righteousness.  God is able to use anyone for His purposes as He sees fit.

And now for the latest scandal.  Even just a half a century ago, it would have been major scandal for a young woman to be found pregnant out-of-wedlock.  The shame of it drove many women to flee their homes and stay hidden until they could have the baby, often giving it up for adoption before returning to their family.

But in this case, God had appointed this very awkward event in prophecy.  And Mary did not hide, but rather endured the social maelstrom that ensued.  Gabriel had announced that she had been chosen, and she was fully submitted to the will of God.  Sometimes that means great personal sacrifice and loss.  In this case, public opinion must have been fiercely harsh towards Mary.  Yet she endured it all in wonder, for God had ordained it, and she believed God.

Honorable Husband

Now, place yourself in Joseph’s place.  Traditionally, after getting engaged, the husband-to-be would go off and build the home where the newlyweds would live in anticipation of the blessed union.  Imagine at that time coming home, and finding your wife-to-be pregnant.  What to do!  Joseph had options at his disposal.  He could have her stoned for this “alleged” misconduct.  By being pledged as Joseph’s wife, Mary was effectively classified as married for the purposes of adultery.  Joseph could very publicly end the marriage.  But Joseph, being a man of God, in his heart determined that rather than cause Mary any more difficulty, chose to divorce her quietly (end the engagement).

Imagine if you were in the military and sent off to a foreign land, ready to be married, and come home to find your wife-to-be pregnant.  How would you react?  Imagine how you would feel.  Imagine the character and self-restraint that it took for Joseph to even consider handling this quietly.  This took great courage and character.

Angelic Announcement

But God…  Those two words are the source of great amazement.  Just as it seemed that all would be ruined, God sent an angel down to counsel and command Joseph.  Notice how the angel greets him:

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

In this, the angel invokes the royal line of David as the line of the Messiah.  Imagine his relief in finding out that what Mary has told him is true – this is of the Holy Spirit of God.  Imagine the relief in finding out that Mary has been faithful to him.  Imagine the dread of the social storm that is upon them.  Imagine his apprehension, being chosen by God to be the surrogate father to his Savior.  And imagine his joy and wonder, knowing that the time has come for God’s promise to be fulfilled, now in his very lifetime.  And imagine this happening all at once.

Faithful Father

And even in the midst of this, Joseph proved himself to be a man of God.  The angel commanded him to take Mary as his wife, for he was charged with naming his first son Jesus.  And as was the law, the firstborn son was to be dedicated to God.  How fitting that Jesus, the firstborn son of Joseph and Mary, the Son of God, be dedicated to the Father.  And Joseph, being the man of God that he was, fully embraced the responsibility that was placed upon his shoulders.  He passed the test with flying colors.

Now let’s take a look at a few of the events that transpired to make this blessed event come off at the appointed time and in the appointed way.  Imagine if Rahab had not protected the spies of Joshua.  Imagine if Ruth had gone back to Moab rather than stay with Naomi and later listen to the odd commands of Naomi (who now claimed the name Mara, which means bitter), as she carefully planned the circumstances of courtship between Ruth and Boaz.  Imagine if David had refused to be anointed by Samuel as the next king of Israel.  Imagine if Mary had said “this is too much for me to bear” to Gabriel instead of announcing herself as God’s servant.  Imagine if Joseph had succumbed to social pressure and left Mary as a stay-at-home, unwed mother.  In each and every case, these people were tested by their circumstances, and their character triumphed as they chose to honor God.   Regardless of the scandals in our lives, and the circumstances that we find ourselves in, we too must exhibit great character.  Who knows what interesting things will come about as we submit ourselves to the will of God!

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  How far am I be willing to go to endure great loss and scandal to be obedient to my Lord and Savior?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, with our lips we praise You, and with our lives we worship You.  Remember me that in every decision that I make, that You are always at the forefront.  May every word I speak, thought that I have and embrace, and action that I take reflect Your character, Your love, and Your sacrifice.  Help me when I feel pressure from anyone or any circumstance to deviate from Your express will.  Strengthen me, especially in my moments of weakness, that I would continue to honor and glorify your name, regardless of the pain, loss, or difficulty that I encounter.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?