Promise of God – Psalm 34:15-16

The Lord Watches Over The Righteous

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.

Willfully Watching

God watches over the righteous.  He keeps his eyes upon them.  He knows our coming and going.  He delights in the righteous, and ensures that their needs are met.  God has said:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Just as a parent carefully keeps their eyes upon their children to ensure that they are OK and are behaving themselves, God keeps His eyes upon His children, the ones made righteous by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  We can be assured that He is watching us closely.

Longingly Listening

God is attentive to the cries of the righteous.  Just as a parent listens to the cries of a child who is in pain, or who is in need, God listens for them and helps them with their needs.  God loves us in a way that is so far beyond what human parents are able to do, and our parents helped us in our time of need.  We can be assured that God not only listens but has planned a response already for our cries:

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

And God’s answer may be delayed for various reasons.  Demonic activity may impede a response to prayer.  God may be also be waiting for the necessary spiritual development to occur before the answer is provided.  Whatever the reason, God has already provided the answer.  Be patient for its arrival.

Against Antagonists

God turns his face from those who do evil.  No one who does evil should expect assistance from God until they repent.  God is holy, and because of this, He cannot tolerate evil in His presence.  But thanks be to God for Jesus Christ, whose perfect blood provides the means through which God can see us as righteous.

One of the most gruelingly difficult questions for the oppressed is:  why does God allow the wicked to prosper?

You are always righteous, Lord,
when I bring a case before you.
Yet I would speak with you about your justice:
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all the faithless live at ease?

And we should be consoled with God’s response:

14 This is what the Lord says: “As for all my wicked neighbors who seize the inheritance I gave my people Israel, I will uproot them from their lands and I will uproot the people of Judah from among them. 15 But after I uproot them, I will again have compassion and will bring each of them back to their own inheritance and their own country. 16 And if they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people. 17 But if any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it,” declares the Lord.

Delivering Destruction

God will blot the name of the wicked from the Earth.  Their name will not be found in the book of life on the final and terrible day of the return of our Lord.  They will be utterly destroyed.  Regardless of their prosperity here on Earth, their eternal reward will be destruction and eternal separation from God.  And not only will they be separated from God and His holiness, power, and purity, they will be placed in God’s prison, the lake of fire, where they will experience torment for all eternity.  We can be assured that God will mete out justice to those who refused to settle their debt before their case comes before Him, the perfect judge.  Fear not, for God’s anger and wrath will surely destroy the wicked at the appropriate time.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we trusting that God is watching over us and is answering our cries, even though it may take decades for His response?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, thank You for Your watchful gaze over me throughout this day and my entire life.  You have been faithful to watch over me and answer my cries for help.  Give me patient endurance when Your answers take an agonizingly long time to fulfill.  Strengthen me in Your silence, for silence feels like abandonment.  Help me to walk the straight and narrow path as my enemies seek to destroy me.  Protect me as demonic forces oppose me in all that I do.  Help me to live by faith and not sight, for You have justified me through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  This I ask and pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Salvation and God – Obadiah 15-18

Jacob Will Be Saved, and Esau Will Be Destroyed

15 “The day of the Lord is near
for all nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you;
your deeds will return upon your own head.
16 Just as you drank on my holy hill,
so all the nations will drink continually;
they will drink and drink
and be as if they had never been.
17 But on Mount Zion will be deliverance;
it will be holy,
and Jacob will possess his inheritance.
18 Jacob will be a fire
and Joseph a flame;
Esau will be stubble,
and they will set him on fire and destroy him.
There will be no survivors
from Esau.”
The Lord has spoken.

Coming Calamity

The great and terrible day of the Lord is coming quickly.  It will overtake us with great speed and we will be unaware of its exact arrivalGod will redeem Israel, and destroy all whose names are not written in the Book of Life.

One of the most interesting things is that any whose name is not found in the book of Life will worship the beast.

Woeful Wrath

The nations will drink and drink as if they have never been.  The wrath of God will come upon all of them.  The justice of God is tempered by His love.  Eventually, God must mete out justice in accordance with His Holiness.  He will destroy everyone who refused to believe Him; for if they believed Him, it would be counted to them as righteousness.

Delightful Deliverance

God will bring about a mighty work on that day.  Israel will be redeemed!  The seed of Abraham will have the scales removed from their eyes, and they will worship and follow the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  Israel in that day will finally receive their inheritance promised to them through Abraham by God.

Esau Eradicated

The interesting side note in this is that the seed of Esau will be destroyed.  And who might the seed of Esau be?  Those who rejected their inheritance.  Both Jacob and Esau came from Jacob, but Jacob’s line received the inheritance.  Remember what God has given to you, and stand fast in His love.  Do not deny Him, and He will not deny you.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I ready for the return of Jesus Christ (and if not, why not)?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown me Your love and compassion in revealing Your Son to me.  Help me to be prepared and be the faithful servant whom the master finds has everything in order when he returns.  Guard my heart against unrighteousness, and help me to walk ever closer with Jesus.  Thank You Father, for You keep every promise that You make.  And bless Your people Israel.  Provide for them, protect them, and save them.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

Justice of God – 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10

God Will Not Withhold His Wrath Forever

5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

Selected for Suffering

All who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior will experience suffering.  No student is above his teacher, and we are not above Jesus Christ in this regard.  We should take heart and rejoice in our sufferings, and decide to consider them as an indication that we are truly God’s people:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Woeful Wrath

Paul says something interesting here.  He indicates that God will pay back trouble to those who trouble us.  One of the most difficult things to do as a Christian is to bear up under the abuse of others. A “trick” that we can employ to help us with this is to remember that God will pay back those who trouble us.  This does not mean that we wish harm to come to others; it merely means that we can rest in knowing that God is Just and will punish the wicked.

In order to use this effectively, we must see through God’s lens of eternity and be satisfied with His Justice, resting in the outcome of eternity.  Let us take a step back, and with the revealed knowledge of what God will do (through examining eschatological [end-times] prophecy) understand that from God’s perspective, everything is already accomplished.  This is how God was and is able to endure the disobedience of man – He was able to see Christ crucified and resurrected before the beginning of the universe, as though it had already occurred.

We too should look at the wrath of God as already having been poured out upon those who refuse to believe.  In God’s eyes, as in ours, we should see that the punishment of justice has already occurred.  Those who wronged us but accepted Christ have their sins forgiven in Christ, so justice has been served – Christ paid for it with His holy, perfect, sinless blood, as He did ours.  Justice is served.  For those who refused the free gift of salvation, they are already serving their sentence in the lake of fire.  Justice is served.  Either way, justice has been served, and we can rest in the Holy Justice of God to let these things go so that no root of bitterness will grow in our hearts.

Ruler Revealed

All of this will occur when Jesus Christ is revealed as the Lion of Judah .  He first came as a lamb.  He now returns as the Lion to gather His elect and bring wrath to the unbelievers.  Jesus will be unveiled and the unseen will become seen.  Every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, whether they bow willingly or grudgingly.  We will know and be fully known.  What a wonderful and dreadful day that will be!

Destruction of the Disobedient

God will not withhold His wrath and anger forever.  He does not destroy us now because He would like to see as many that would believe would be saved and to display His mercy.  Those that don’t believe will face absolute destruction with the second death – spiritual death (the eternal separation from God in the lake of fire).  They will be tormented for all eternity because they refused to love the truth.  That should sober up every Christian when we think about it and propel us into action so that the message of the Gospel is delivered to all the world.

And when we fail in that, or are unable because the devil has complete control over a region, God will still reveal Himself to people through visions and dreams.  Many in the Middle East, where they are under complete Shariah law, are being reached through this method even today.  Because of this, many are coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Darkness has fallen there, and no one can work but God alone.  Darkness is falling across the entire world.  Places where freedom once reigned and Christianity once flourished and thrived are now being choked out by oppressive governments and their subjected peoples who sympathize with their government’s position.  Take Heart!  Christ has overcome the world!

Glorified by God

And when Jesus arrives, those who found life through salvation of sin in Jesus Christ will be with Him as He is glorified.  We will be like Him.  And we will marvel in His glory from that time throughout all eternity, praising and glorifying Him forever and ever.

Suffering a little now seems insignificant when we consider the eternal glory of God and being in His presence.  Endure the trials before you, knowing that you will be reunited with your Savior in joy and celebration for all eternity.  The pain you suffer now is great, but it is momentary in light of eternity.  Pray that God would comfort you through it, so that you would endure your suffering in such a way that it would bring glory to His name.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we bearing up under our suffering so that God will be glorified, as He seeks to prepare us for the time when we will be with Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I greatly look forward to the return of Jesus Christ as the Lion of Judah.  Help me to be prepared so that when He returns, I will be ready and found doing what I have been told to do.  Give me peace as I suffer in my trials, and give me Your eternal perspective on all things that I may be able to look beyond the present to see everything in the lens of eternity.  May this viewpoint bring me comfort and help me to grow in grace and righteousness.  Comfort me in my pain.  It seems as though it will last forever, but You have promised that when I am with You in heaven, there will be no more pain and no more tears.  I greatly look forward to that day.  Blessed be Your Name, Lord God Almighty!  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?

Sanctification with God – Colossians 3:5-7

Be Less Like the World and More Like God

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.

Deadly Detriments

Everyone seems to know what Christians are against.  So, why do we still keep doing what say we are against?  We know that it is our sin nature.  But has the Word of the Living God pierced your heart to the point where you say with disgust and revolt, “I just CANNOT do this anymore!”?  So, what are some of the worldly attitudes that Christians are told to stop walking in?

  • Sexual Immorality
    • In the Greek, porneian.  It’s from this word that we get our word pornography.  It is unnatural (not-God-approved) sexual conduct. God has sanctioned sexual conduct within the bounds of marriage to illustrate His model of love and physical gratification through mutual submission of a man (humans born with XY chromosomes) and a woman (humans born with XX chromosomes) in a covenant relationship with each other and to Himself.
    • If we are involved in sexual conduct outside those parameters, it is time to confront ourselves and bring it to God who, through His word, will instruct us through His Holy Word by the Holy Spirit in proper conduct towards others and ourselves in this area of life.
  • Impurity
    • In the Greek, akatharsian.  We get our word catharsis from it.  In this case, it is a wrongful filling of ourselves (a- being the opposite, yielding a filling up rather then an emptying), in this case, a lack of purity.  We are to experience God’s character.  How can we do that when will fill ourselves with impurity?
  • Lust
    • In the Greek, pathos epithumian, or passionate, emotional desire.  The outcome of this is best illustrated in the story of Amnon and Tamar.  Amnon become so obsessed with sister Tamar (his desire to have her sexually) that he made himself ill.  It grew until he finally acted upon it and raped her.  Then, after he molested her, he hated her even more than he previously desired to have her.  Lust is one of the desires of the heart that is never filled, and whose outcome is often not what is advertised when contemplating and indulging the desire.
    • Once lust grows in the heart it always seeks more and more until action is inevitable.  Lust can truly consume a person.
  • Evil Desires
    • In the Greek, kakEn.  Strong’s Notes indicates that this is “worthless (intrinsically, such; whereas [this word] properly refers to effects [of worthlessness]), i.e. (subjectively) depraved, or (objectively) injurious.” Brackets and text within brackets added for clarification.
    • God builds up, but evil desires destroy not only the person that harbors and exhibits them, but those whom that person interacts.
  • Greed
    • In the Greek, pleanexion.  It means more-having, or desiring more and more.  It is not necessarily covetousness, but rather a lack of contentment with what a person already has, and the desire to increase whatever it is that is seen as insufficient.

We are told something interesting about these.  The Greek word for “which” is  hEtis, and means “which-any” or “any/all of which”.  And God, through Paul, classifies them as idolatry.

Walking in Wrath

Paul goes on to say that these are some of the reasons why the wrath of God is coming.  When we engage in these, we are denying the character and truth of God, for ALL human beings are made in the image of God, and are to be the image-bearers of God’s character in this life (and throughout eternity).

Glorious Growth

We all fall short of the glory of God.  We are told to repent.  As part of repentance, we need to introspectively examine our lives to see if we are engaging in, holding onto, in agreement with, or otherwise not completely rejecting as evil the things that God holds to be loathsome.  To be certain, cultivating these attitudes (aligning our attitudes with the attitudes of God) takes time, determination, and spending time reading, reflecting upon, and praying about God’s Holy Word.  In this way, our minds will be transformed through alignment with God’s thoughts and ways.

It is then that as living sacrifices, we will be less inclined to squirm off the altar when we face trials and difficulties in this life.  But be of good cheer!  We have a Holy High Priest who sits at the right hand of God praying for us and our success in this!

A Qualifying Question

So, let’s ask ourselves a question:  Am I spending time each day (each week?) to see if I am harboring a positive, or even neutral, attitude toward the things that repulse God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You delight in Your children, and You have chosen not to leave us nor forsake us, even when we fail.  Strengthen me this day as I face new and existing challenges that stretch my faith and sometimes, even my ability to breathe from moment to moment.  Guard me, guide me, forgive me, and restore me as I navigate this world and my feet become dirty.  Wash me clean with the precious blood of Your Perfect Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And when I fall, pick me up, dust me off, wipe my tears, and carry me until I can begin to crawl again.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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