The Weather and God – Job 37:5-6

God Controls The Weather, Not Us

5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’
and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’

Marvelous Mysteries

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

We read these words, and we look up in the sky, and we say to ourselves, “Oh, God created light!”  What we may not think about is that God created light on day one of creationHe created the Sun, Moon, and Stars on day four of creation.  What was the light that He created on day one?

There are marvelous mysteries waiting for us to learn.  Was light, as a construct, created first, then the objects to display the light created later?  The good news is that God has revealed some of those mysteries to us.  One of them is the weather.  God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to make known to man that He, and He alone, is sovereign over the weather.

Wonderful Weather

We have been greatly blessed to have different kinds of weather.  It was not always so.  Until the flood, there is reason to believe that it had never rained on the Earth*.  God commands His creation to give rain and snow and sleet and wind and every other type of weather that we experience:

8 He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.

15 He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

Christ Commands

All power and authority over the Earth and the Universe has been given to our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is nothing that he does not have authority over in the physical and spiritual realm of all created things.  Because of this, we know that Jesus is master over the weather:

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.

Jesus not only commands the weather; He has it stored up for His express purposes:

22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?”

Powerful Pride

Since we know that Christ is sovereign over the weather, we must now re-evaluate our position on human-induced climate change:

  • Who warms the Earth?  Is it man, or is God?
  • Who cools the Earth?  Is it man, or is God?
  • Are we arrogant enough to believe that we, through our feeble efforts, are able to influence the weather in such a grandiose way that we are now sovereign over it?
  • Though ants can move a mountain of dirt from a hill, what significant impact does that have on the rest of the world?

We deem ourselves too important in our own eyes when we say that it is we who are causing the temperature to change in the atmosphere of the Earth.  How convenient!

Forty or so years ago, scientists were warning us that “Global Cooling” was going to plunge us into another ice age (ask your parents and/or grandparents about that if you aren’t old enough to remember.  And try to find the write-ups anywhere now – most have been expunged.  Is it not Satan who is the author of Historical Revisionism [i.e., lying and deceit]?).

When they were wrong about that, about a decade and a half later, we were told that in a decade or so “Global Warming” would be so bad that the polar ice caps would melt, all the polar bears would die, and the world’s ocean levels would rise to such a point that our coastal lines would change.

When THAT didn’t happen, they came up with “Global Climate Change.”  Not content to attribute one swing in temperature to ourselves, we are now taking full credit for changes in the weather:

  • If it is cold, WE DID IT!
  • If it is hot, WE DID IT!
  • If it is neither, SOMETHING THAT WE DID MUST HAVE CAUSED IT!

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Whom do I believe when it comes to changes in the weather?

A short prayer of preparation:

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


Notes:

*In Genesis 2:6, there is indication that rain had not fallen on the Earth, but that either springs came forth or a mist came forth to water the plants.  When Noah made the Ark, and preached righteousness, if there had EVER been a flood before (no matter how small), people most likely would have believed him.  After all, if a person had survived the flooding of the Nile every year, and could see that the rains caused it, would they not have believed Noah at least about the flooding portion of His message?  Even now, we have hundred-year floods that cause great devastation.  People generally lived along streams and rivers, because water was so important in agriculture.  Noah was six hundred years old when it flooded (Genesis 7:6).  He and others would have survived AT LEAST FIVE hundred-year floods in his lifetime.  Unless there had never been a flood before…

Planning Ahead with God – James 4:13-17

Acknowledge The Sovereignty Of God In All Things

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Brash Boasting

Money is an interesting device.  It allows us to exchange our labor and efforts for the goods and services of others.  Money in and of itself has no real value apart from what people perceive it to be.  We often think that we cannot live without money.  But is it money that we need, or what it can obtain for us?

Most people would do just fine through barter.  Even if, for some strange reason, a kind benefactor were to provide you with food every morning on your doorstep (at a house which they provided you a clear title as well and paid all taxes), daily restocked your woodpile for your cast-iron stove, refilled your well with water, provided every tool and item to repair anything that broke, and left clothing (that fit you) every day, who would need money?  You would have everything that you needed to survive!

But we still seek after money, and when God gives us success in our endeavors, we forget that it is because of His mighty providence that we have what we have, even the ability to breathe, and we make mighty boasts about what we are going to do tomorrow.  This greatly displeases the Lord, for we have forgotten our place in His plan.

Mighty Mist

In this passage, we are likened to a mist that is here today, and gone tomorrow.  For the Lord, a thousand years is as a day.  Time appears to be against us.  In just a few years, each of us age, and our bodies begin to fail, until they can work no longer.  Just as the mist rises in the morning, then fades away once the sun shines down upon it and heats it up, our lives are but a short speck of time throughout eternity.

It behooves us to remember just how little time we have, and how fast it marches closer and closer to the time when we must give an account to God for everything we have done in the flesh with the gifts, provision, and calling He has provided to and for us.  By remembering just how short that time is, we will be better prepared to make the sacrifices that are necessary to honor and glorify God.

Moses once asked God to help him to number his days.  He recognized just how short our time here on Earth would be.  We should do the same.  When we ask this of God, we acknowledge that He is sovereign over all of His creation.

Solely Sovereign

We can acknowledge that God is sovereign through our attitudes and speech.  Rather than boast, “Next year we will go here or there and do so and so and be successful,” we can honor God by saying, “If we are alive and it is the will of the Lord, we will …”  It is this attitude of the heart that God is seeking in each one of us.

Once we begin to believe that we did these things with our own hands, apart from the divine strength and provision of the Lord God Almighty, we will begin to erect an idol in our lives out of pride and haughtiness.  We have been warned about what comes next:

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

Avoid Arrogance

Without the eternal perspective that God has through His nature and sovereignty, we are likely to become very arrogant when He richly blesses us.  And God has shown in His word, time and time again, that He will not tolerate such things.  It is for reasons such as these that Israel was continually conquered by her enemies and enslaved, Over and Over Again, to their great shame and dismay.  And if they are part of the true vine, and the rest of us are merely grafted in, how much more will we be subject to that very same treatment if we go the way of arrogance?

Onerous Omission

James, the author of this passage of scripture, reminds us that not only should we be avoiding those things that are abhorrent to God – sins of commission – but also that we are to be doing the things that we know God wants us to do.  When we fail to do them, we are engaged in sin – the sin of omission.  Both are abhorrent to God.  Let us now carefully evaluate what we do, what we plan, and what we say so that it comports to the attitudes, thoughts, and actions that please God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I acknowledge God’s sovereignty in how I make my plans and go about implementing them?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are to be praised and exalted above all.  Thank You for Your continued provision and providence in my life, and helping me to even breathe.  Father, show me the way I should go, and help me to get there.  Provide me the wisdom, discernment, and direction that I need to accomplish all that You desire to be done.  Give me clear direction, the strength, and the vision to overcome all obstacles that the enemy places in my path that I might bring honor and glory to Your name through everything You do through me.  Keep my heart far from pride, arrogance, and haughtiness, and instill within me an attitude of humility as I remember my place in Your presence.  Help me to experience success and joy in knowing that You are working out all things to good for me, for I love You, and I know that I am called according to Your purpose.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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


This blog has been edited for spelling errors and clarity

Combat Training with God – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

God Will Provide A Way For You To Honor Him When You Are Tempted/Tested

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Proper Precautions

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

Paul warns us that we should take a careful look at how we are walking.  When we think that we are doing well, and we are standing, BEWARE!  It is very likely that we will fall.  Pride has a tendency to distract us from having a proper perception of our circumstances.  While there are many who are walking properly, when we think we are walking, pay careful and close attention to your walk;  that is usually when you are about to step into a large pit of slimy quicksand up to your ears.

Common Causes

Paul tells us that there are common temptations that assail us.  The Apostle John lists them in three categories:

  1. The lust of the eyes
  2. The lust of the flesh
  3. The pride of life

These are the same methods that Satan tried to use to when he was testing Jesus after his forty day fast.  James reiterates that temptation is caused by our own evil desires:

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

There is no temptation that is unique to you; it just feels that way.  You will find, if you talk to other people whom you can trust will hold what you say in confidence, that everyone faces similar temptations.  The source may be different, but the temptation is the same.  Everyone has different triggers, and it is up to us to ask God to remove those triggers so that we can start to react differently to temptation.  Removing a trigger in you life doesn’t mean that the evil desire is removed; it means that we have more than a microsecond to remember that we can say “NO!” to the temptation rather than giving in to it.

Royal Relief

It is terrible when we feel helpless to say “NO” to temptation.  But the reason that we say “YES” is that we are not saying “NO” in the first place!  God is faithful, and He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to bear up under it.  We may not believe that, because we have been yielding to temptation for so long that, like Pavlov’s dogs, we automatically say “YES!” when the opportunity is presented to us.  But God is not cruel, and He will provide a way for us to honor Him when we face our temptations.

Difficult Door

The way to honor God during temptation is not easy.  And we need His help to overcome all temptation.  The good news is that the blood of Jesus Christ has freed us from the bondage of sin, so we now have the CAPABILITY to say “NO!” to temptation.  But how can we do that when our bodies are weak, and fail us each and every time we are presented with a challenge?

God is faithful to provide us with many examples in the Bible on how to deal with temptation.  The very first mention of temptation was when God approached Cain, and told him that if he did what was wrong, sin was crouching at his door, but he needed to rule over it:

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Joseph was placed into a precarious situation with Potiphar’s wife.  She desired to know him physically, and even engineered a situation where they would be alone so there would be no witnesses.  When Joseph realized the situation that he was in, he escaped sin by performing the ultimate Houdini act – he escaped by running as fast as he could from the temptation.  This is not always possible, but it can be very effective.

When Nehemiah was faced with the temptation to hide in the temple from his enemies, he perceived that this was a ruse to get him to sin.  Nehemiah refused to give in to the ploy, and did not cower in the temple.  Temptation can come from may places.  It is important to remember to be vigilant in guarding ourselves against the wiles of the enemy as he tries to get us to do what is not right in the eyes of Almighty God.

Jesus Himself gave us a wonderful way to face temptation.  He used scripture to refute it.  God will give us the ability and the way to escape temptation.  However, we must remember that there may be consequences for saying “NO!”  Joseph was placed in jail after Potiphar’s wife lied about her seductress encounter with him. The fate of many of the saints in the second half of Hebrews 11 tells of their woes.

We too may face social, career, financial, and possibly many other types of loss, ruination, or troubles because we have chosen to say “NO!” to temptation.  These consequences may have lasting repercussions in our lives here on Earth, as well as our family’s lives.  Count the cost – God desires obedience in the face of opposition.  But God is faithful, and as we are obedient to Him, He will provide a way for us.  Even if that way is to be reunited with Him in glory.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: What is my tendency when I am presented with a temptation?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your faithfulness in all things.  Thank You for providing a way to say “NO!” to temptation.  Thank You for giving me the opportunity to honor and glorify You with my mind, my words, and my body.  Help me to be faithful, even unto death, so that You may be praised, honored and glorified.  Strengthen me during my trials, and show me the way to resist them so that I would honor You.  And when I have been backed into a corner, whether through my own fault, or the evil, sadistic, hateful plots of others to discredit and destroy me, give me the strength to do what is right, even in the face of death.  I pray that You would help me when the fallout from these encounters causes my circumstances to be grim and dire.  I know, Father, that You are sovereign over all things.  Help me to endure so that I would not lose my reward.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Love of God – 1 Corinthians 13:4

Nothing Is Impossible With God

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

Patient Persistence

In this well-quoted passage, Paul talks about one of the defining character strengths of God – Love.   The first aspect of God’s love is that it is patient.  Because of our sin nature, we are naturally impatient.  And, in recent times, we have taken this to a new level, almost making it an art form.

We have instant coffee, instant potatoes, microwave ovens, Gbps internet bandwidth, instant banking, instant (fill in the blank).  Just about every aspect of our lives denotes the very nature of our impatience.  People are so focused on the moment that they fail to take the time to wait in line.  On the roads in the United States of America, cars whiz by each other as fast as possible and change lanes without regard to the safety of themselves or others on the same road.

But God is patient, waiting for years – possibly decades – with a full-on assault of kindness and blessing to lead us into repentance with Him.  And we can barely stand still long enough to say “Amen!” when a prayer is offered.  Patience is a lost art in the Western world.  Yet it is the very first characteristic of love that is delineated by Paul in this great treatise on love.

Keeping up Kindness

It’s the little things in life that make the day go by easier and more smoothly.  Kindness is listed next in the characteristics of Godly love.  The primitive church disciples of Christ were known as chrestos, or kind-ones.  It was mistakenly believed that they were being called Christians because they followed Christ.  In reality, they were just so kind, that they stood apart from the world.

The chrestos ministered to a dying world in an amazing way.  When Roman citizens would throw their babies into the river to get rid of them, the chrestos went into the river, rescued them, and raised them as their own children.  When plague and sickness invaded cities, everyone fled, but the chrestos rushed in, providing comfort and care to those who were suffering, often dying of the very diseases that they were helping others to overcome.  Such was the life of kindness displayed in the primitive church.

Evading Envy

Having said what love was, Paul now tells us what love is not.  Love is not envious.  Envy is a terrible sin.  Desiring the property, relationships, wealth, position, status, authority, or anything else of someone else is effectively saying that God made a mistake in not providing it to you.  Since God does not make mistakes, it is we who make the mistake when we desire what we do not have.

Banning Boasting

We also have the desire to promote ourselves, rather than God.  We seek to lay claim to His glory as our own, for it is God who enables us to do all things.  Nothing that we do is done solely by us, but rather with the express prior permission, provision, and protection of God.  We cannot take a breath of air without His help.  Christ holds all things together, and created all things.

When we boast, we are in effect saying that by our own ability something was accomplished.  Yet anything done without the power and provision of God is hay and stubble, tainted by the very nature of sin that now threatens to usurp God’s rightful claim to glory and praise.  If we must boast in something, let it be in our weakness, for when we are weak, God is strong.

Purging Pride

The three main threats we encounter in our sinful nature are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  Pride is the seed and root of boasting, believing that we are the authors of our own destinies.  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.  We are setting ourselves us for failure when we buy into the belief that we are the authors of anything good.

God alone is good, and we need Him to help us accomplish anything worthy of praise.  And because of our dependence upon Him, we can rightfully give all glory and honor to God.  Since God and God alone is worthy of all praise and glory, it is right to give it all to Him.  The Bible says that we will be tested by our praise.  Let us remember the source of all our power, energy, strength, and ability – The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the vine.  We are merely the branches, drawing life from the root of the plant.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I demonstrating the love of God to others, or am I adhering to the cultural norms?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have demonstrated Your love for us, in that You sent Your One and only Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the punishment for our sins.  Help me this day, Father, to bear Your image properly.  Help me to see others as You see them, and to love others as You love them.  Show me how to shed the attitudes of culture so that I can embrace Your character instead.  Guard my heart against the desire to promote myself, and help me to promote Jesus instead.  Let my life be a testament to Your glory, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the supernatural power that You have to free us from the bondage of sin.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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


This blog has been edited for spelling errors.

Humbled by God – Jonah 1:17

It Is A Terrible Thing To Fall Into The Hands Of The Living God

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Angry Answer

Jonah was faced with, in his mind, an impossible situation:  Preach destruction to a people that he wanted God to destroy, knowing that God would show them mercy.  Rather than proceeding with God’s plan, Jonah fled in the hopes that he would not be embarrassed should God relent of his stated position to destroy Nineveh, also greatly desiring the destruction of his enemies.

The sailors who drew lots to determine who was responsible for their difficulties determined it was Jonah.  When confronted with his disobedience by the sailors, Jonah does something odd.  Rather than repent, or tell them to take him to a port near Nineveh, he instructs them to throw him overboard!  He would rather die, drowning in the water, than be responsible for the Ninevites repenting to the Lord.

Powerful Provision

God calmed the storm immediately after Jonah was thrown overboard.  Not only did God relent against the ship and crew, they began to fear God and worship Him.  God, rather than destroying Jonah, wanted to bring about some character refinement in him, and instead of letting him drown, sent a fish to swallow him.

God often wants to do more with us and through us that we would like.  We sometime fight Him kicking and screaming, because our flesh interferes with our obedience.  And, as in the case of Jonah, it was so much so that he forgot to take into account the lives that were with Him, to the point that he probably didn’t really care if the sailors died with him.  But even in that, God provided for both the sailors’ safety, and for the safety of Jonah.  We can be assured that God will provide for us in our time of need.

Contemplative Confinement

Imaging the stench of being in the belly of a fish for three days and nights.  Jonah was so angry and distraught with what God was asking him to do, that it took him THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS before he could bring himself to repent.  How much anger would that take?  It must have been something very powerful to compel Jonah to wait so long in such a difficult situation.

Most likely, a root of bitterness had taken great hold in Jonah’s heart towards the Ninevites.  God will often use a situation where we are called to be compassionate towards, and reach out to, our enemies to remove a root of bitterness that grown within us.  Jonah’s root was very well entrenched.  How many of us would have waited THREE DAYS AND NIGHTS to finally surrender to God?  Most of us would probably, in that miserable condition, have surrendered in the first few minutes.

Regardless of the situation that we find ourselves in, God will use the perfect situation to humble us in our pride, anger, bitterness, or whatever situation that we have that causes us to act contrary to the will of the Living God.  For it is only God who is able to get us to see ourselves for who we really are, and to provide opportunity for reflection and repentance.  We can only hope it won’t take being in the belly of a fish to do it.

Awesome Acknowledgement

And out of these trials comes a greater understanding and acknowledgement of the character and nature of God.  Jonah’s prayer to God shows that He yields to God’s sovereign rule in his life:

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
3 You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
4 I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
5 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.

7 “When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.'”

When we come out of the other side of our humbling, we will praise, honor, and glorify God in Heaven for who He is and for our salvation through the difficulty.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  What does it take from God to help us to change our minds and humble ourselves before Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are able to humble the proud and bring low all who resist You.  You are full of mercy and grace, patiently dealing with me in Your own way.  Help me to not resist Your discipline, Lord, but rather to embrace it and be changed by it so that You would be glorified.  Help me to remove all resistance to You in my heart, that You would have unfettered access to the deepest, darkest regions of my soul, places where even I dare not visit.  Shed Your perfect light in all of the areas of darkness, and redeem what was lost by me through sin and pride.  Show me what You desire of me that I may do it, and do it with a cheerful heart, knowing that it is Your will.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Leadership with God – Psalm 2:10-12

An Open Letter to All Who Are Called to Leadership by God

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Wise Warning

God sets the tone for these passages with a warning to all leaders.  God specifically mentions kings, then more generally mentions rulers.  All authority comes from God.  There is no authority that exists that is not expressly instituted by God, for God is Sovereign over all creation.  Anyone who is wise will take heed of and allow their heart to ponder His warning to them.

Solemn Service

The Lord God Almighty asserts His Sovereignty and commands those who have been placed in leadership over others to serve Him with (reverential) fear.  God has stated that He is ruler over all.  Just as those who are in leadership over men expect them to heed what they decree, so also does the Lord God Almighty.  Every ruler should celebrate that they are just a link in the chain of leadership over us, rather than the head, for who can rule alone wisely that is not omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent?

As leaders consider their role and position in the chain of leadership, they should do so with trembling.  We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  In the same way, leaders should carefully consider their actions as they are accountable to the One and Only God who is in authority over them and requires them to be obedient to Him.

Royal Recognition

Leaders are to “kiss the son”.  Matthew Henry points out that we should kiss the son not in way that betrays Him like Judas, but rather with a kiss of adoration and religious worship.  All are to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.  Every knee show bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord.  We can choose to bow the knee now in praise, adoration, and obedience, or we can bend it later in front of the white throne seat of judgement.  The choice is ours.

Angered Answer

Those that choose it ignore their place in leadership and go on to be a “Lone Ranger” will suffer the consequences of their actions.  Just as we expect our children to obey us, God expects us to obey Him.  And when we are disobedient, especially with regards to the usurpation of power and authority by leaders from that which God grants to them over His people, there are grave consequences.

Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall.  Leaders that refuse to accept God’s authority and leading in their lives face eventual destruction.  This will manifest itself in their removal from office by the hand of God through people, circumstances, disability, or even death.  Their destruction is foretold by the one who placed them in leadership to being with.  They rebel against God at their own peril.

Those who rebel will be held accountable by God.  We should pay attention to the past, for God has warned us of what He does to the disobedient:

15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.

In times past, it was kings like Nebuchadnezzar that were used as tools of God’s wrath.  Now, it is the fundamentalist adherents to Islam that God is using as tools to implement His wrath.

Beatific Blessing

Finally, God pronounces a blessing upon all who take refuge in Him.  When leaders take refuge in God, they will be protected and blessed by the One is able to save and protect them.  Some trust in weapons, and some trust in armies, but wise leaders trust in the Name of the Lord God Almighty.  When leaders of a nation yield themselves to the God of Creation, and celebrate His sovereign authority, they are protected and blessed:

Let us read about the confession of a leader that was humbled by God and then blessed:

33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”

36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question.  Are we taking God’s warning to leaders to heart, given that all of God’s people are called to be priests of a royal priesthood, and are therefore leaders?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You provide us with the opportunity to be leaders in every aspect of life.  We lead not only our families, but are often called to greater responsibility in our jobs and in government.  Watch over us and help us to fulfill all that You have planned for us in the roles that You have placed us.  Father, keep me humble that I may not rebel against You.  Help me to have a heart that greatly desires and seeks to know You and Your will for every aspect of my life.  Empower me and strengthen me as I seek to honor You and bring glory to Your name.  May all praise, honor, glory, strength, power and dominion be Yours forever and ever, Amen.

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

Knowledge of God – Philippians 1:9-11

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Paul wrote several times indicating that he desired that we would have greater knowledge of God.  But the knowledge that Paul desired for us was experiential, not just insight.  We experience God when we walk in the same footsteps as Him.  And as we do, God reveals his very nature and character to us:

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. – Matthew 5:7

It is the experiential understanding of God that Paul desires of us.  When we get head knowledge, we can become puffed up, and pride can enter into our lives.  When we live what we know, we become humbled as we realize just how far short of the glory of God we truly are.  Humility is the key to understanding:

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. – James 4:10

It is when we experience God’s character ourselves that we begin to change drastically.  We are better able to walk in His ways as we practice living His character.  When we merely come to an intellectual ascent to God’s word, we may agree in principal but not in practical application with what we have learned.  It is only through the practical application of knowledge that true progress in any field of endeavor is made.

A person can study tennis for years by watching matches, reading books, news articles, and listening to radio shows on the subject.  However, after years of study, without practically applying what has been learned, for most people, they would be unable to return a volley from a seasoned tennis player.  What a tragedy it is to see people comb through the scriptures but never to experience God’s character!  The Jews did the same thing.  They searched the scripture seeking eternal life.  The law only points us to the fact that we cannot keep the law, and therefore we seek salvation from God Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

So, let’s ask a question:  How has God revealed Himself to you as you have personally experienced His character?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are wonderful and beautiful to behold.  You reveal Yourself to us through Your word, and experientially as we walk in Your character.  Reveal Yourself to me today in a greater and deeper way as I walk in Your footsteps.  Show Yourself to me, Lord God, for I greatly desire to see You, and be in Your presence.  Give me such hunger for You that my soul would pant for you like a thirsty deer for water.  And like David, I can say with gladness that a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.  Strengthen me this day as I strive to experientially know You better.  Help me to walk in Your ways, and to have better heart-knowledge of Your Word as You reveal Yourself to me.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Combat Training with God – Matthew 4:4

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Jesus must have been reflecting on Deuteronomy the day that the Spirit of God led Him into the desert, exhausted and hungry, to be tempted (this word can also be translated “tested”) by the devil.  Three times the devil tempted Him.  And three times, showing us how to deal with temptation, Jesus quoted the Word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3, 8:16, 8:13).

The Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted in the same way we all are.  He was tempted in the three main areas of weakness that all human beings have:

It is interesting to note that before he tempts Jesus in each of these areas, the devil tries to call into doubt the calling and nature of our Savior – “If you are the Son of God…”  He likes to twist the Word of God – in this case, through omission (compare Matthew 4:6 vs. Psalm 91:11-12) – and is the absolute master of Historical Revisionism: the art of lying.  It’s hard to fight an enemy that you don’t know or understand.

It is much easier to recognize the attacks of the enemy once you understand them.  Sometimes we need to just flee temptation.  But our one and only weapon in the full Armor of God is the Sword of the Spirit.  The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  How rusty is our sword?

A short prayer of preparation:

Lord God Almighty, You are Holy, Holy, Holy.  I thank You that you have shown us how to fight against the flesh, the world, and the devil.  Guide me this day in Your Holy Word that I might have a response to temptation in all of its many facets.  Bring to mind your Holy Word as I go throughout the day, that the sword in my armor may be clean, bright, and sharp.  Help me to stand when needed, flee when needed, and fight when needed.  Father, help me also to recognize when to do each of these things.  Prepare me for battle this morning that I may honor you in every area of life.  This I ask in the precious name of my Lord and Savior, My battle commander, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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