Consider God

It’s Thursday morning, January 26, 2012. It’s 45 degrees and still raining. But the rain should stop sometime this morning. There has actually been some flooding in the DFW area over the last day.

We worked out last night. There were no bikes available when I got there, so I did a treadmill for about 15 minutes. The incline wouldn’t work on the treadmill I was on, so as soon as I saw a bike get open I got on it for 20 minutes. (Plus two for cool down.) My total workout was 38 minutes. Then I did some upper body strength training. Tonight, we miss the gym because it’s our lifehouse night.

Hmm…today is “Spouses Day.” I must do something nice for my spouse today. Of course I try to something nice for my spouse every day. Is the plural of spouse “spice?” And does it matter, since I only have one?

My Utmost For His Highest

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:30

“A simple statement of Jesus is always a puzzle to us if we are not simple.” That’s an interesting statement. How do we become “simple?” For one thing, we can’t think we know better than Jesus. But that’s exactly what we do when we digress in “spiritual communion” with God. And, “we have allowed the cares of the world to come in, and have forgotten the ‘much more’ of our Heavenly Father.”

Earlier in the chapter, Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air…” What is their main goal? To “obey the principle of life that is in them.” They do what they are supposed to do; what they are “wired” to do. “Jesus says that if you are rightly related to Him and obey His Spirit that is in you, God will look after your ‘feathers.'”

Jesus also tells his disciples to “consider the lilies of the field.” They bloom where they are planted. How many of us refuse to grow where we are put? We never take root, always wanting to move around. Especially in our modern society. No one seems to have roots anywhere.

The point Jesus is trying to make here, according to Chambers, is that we simply need to obey the life that God has given us. Of course, there is the underlying concept of not worrying about anything, and allowing God to take care of our needs. But I believe that Chambers has a good point. If we aren’t seeing the “much more” that Jesus keeps mentioning, it is because we aren’t “obeying the life God has given us.” In a statement that seems to be on a totally different subject, Chambers says, “Consecration means the continual separating of myself to one particular thing. We cannot consecrate once and for all. Am I continually separating myself to consider God every day of my life?” So it’s NOT a different subject, after all, is it? And the key word in the first statement is continual. He’s right. We don’t “consecrate” just once. It is a lifelong task. And the goal is to consider God every day.

Tabletalk Magazine

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2

Tabletalk is still considering the image of God in man. This reading describes the dual nature of that image. There is a distinction between the image Deo in the broad sense and in the narrow sense. “The wider sense of the image Deo refers to our possession of certain faculties even in our sinful condition. Despite our corruption, we still think, formulate plans, show affection, create, and so forth, which are all activities that our Creator performs, albeit without sin.” But through Adam, we lost the image Deo in the narrow sense, “which is the ability to obey God and please Him.” Important statement here: “After the fall, human beings, of their own volition, can no longer conform to the Lord’s revealed will (Ps. 14:1-3).”

Note that these things are all part of our physicality. We bear this image Deo in our physical body, even though our Creator does not have a physical body. There have been heresies over time that have tried to assert that everything physical was sinful, and only the spiritual things mattered. However, our bodies are not inherently evil. They are part of God’s creation, and, as such, will be redeemed when Christ returns, “and sin will no longer impair our physicality.” Won’t THAT be a glorious day?

Matthew 17; Exodus 14-15

Matthew 17 begins with the “Transfiguration” (1-8). Jesus takes Peter, James, and John (sounds like a folk group) up on a mountain, where something very strange happens. Jesus begins to shine with a light as bright as the sun. Moses and Elijah appear. The voice of God thunders, telling them to listen to Jesus. Peter, being his usual impulsive self, suggests making three tents. At the sound of the voice of God, they fall on their faces, but Jesus tells them to rise and have no fear. Jesus emphasizes proper “Timing” (9), by telling them not to mention this until after his resurrection. In a moment of “Teaching” (10-13), Jesus compares Elijah to John the Baptist. In another event, the disciples are “Tested” (14-23) and fail as that they are unable to cast a demon out of a boy. When they question their inability, Jesus tells them it was because their faith was weak. Some manuscripts add verse 21, about prayer and fasting. He then tells them of his ensuing arrest, death, and resurrection, which distresses them greatly. Finally, there is a discussion on “Tax” (24-27), wherein Jesus teaches that we should pay the taxes due the government. I find it interesting that commentaries on this passage always say things like “He then provides the money miraculously through a fish.” However, the Bible never says that Peter did what Jesus told him, does it? We just assume that he did.

In Exodus 14, as the children of Israel are “Following” God’s plan (1-4), he reveals to Moses that he will harden Pharaoh’s heart once more, and Pharaoh will chase after them. Pharaoh’s “Fickle” nature is seen again (5-9), as he changes his mind again (just as predicted), gathers up a few chariots (600+) and comes after Israel. They catch up with Israel at the Red Sea. Israel experiences “Fear” (10-12) when they see this. Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Moses is “Firm” in his faith (13-14), telling them that God will fight for them. When Moses cries out to God, God tells him it is time for them to move “Forward” (15-18). He tells Moses to hold his rod out over the sea, which will divide so that they can cross over. In the meantime, God continues to show his “Faithfulness” (19-20) to Israel, placing a large cloud between them and the Egyptians, so that they are hidden. Then God shows his “Force” (21-23), as Moses stretches out his rod over the sea. A great wind arises, dividing the sea and drying the land between the two walls of the sea. All of Israel is able to walk across the sea on dry ground. The Egyptians are “Frustrated” as they try to follow (24-25). As they reach the middle of the sea, the Lord clogs up their chariot wheels. When the Egyptians realize God is fighting against them, they panic and try to turn around and run back. God commands Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea again, restoring the “Flow” of the water (26-29). “What was formerly dry ground with walls of water to help Israel, now becomes a watery grave for their pursuers.” Israel once again experiences “Fear” (30-31), but of a different kind this time. This time it is reverential fear as they realize what has happened.

Immediately after this, in Exodus 15, Israel sings a song of “Gratitude” (1-19), a song of praise to the Lord. Miriam, Moses’s sister, dances and sings another song of the “Glorious” triumph of the Lord (20-21). How quickly they forget! Soon, there is “Grumbling” (22-24), as they have trouble finding drinking water. The water they finally find is bitter. But God shows “Grace” (25-27) and shows Moses a tree, which, when placed in the water, makes it drinkable. God reminds his people that they must hear his voice and obey him, and he will protect them, and not send any of the plagues upon them which he sent upon Egypt.

Father, I pray that I will not grumble to you in complaint, especially after a great victory in my life. We are such fickle creatures, Father. We bless and praise you one minute, then we curse you and grumble against you the next. May it not be so! May we be more faithful, Lord. Once again, your mighty power is shown against Pharaoh. Let that same power be evident in our lives as we try to live for you and obey you. I pray that I would be able to be “simple” before you, Lord, simply obeying, simply doing what I’m supposed to do, and growing where you have put me. Let me cease striving to be something else; somewhere else; other than where you have put me and what you have made me. I pray for satisfaction. I pray that you would be most glorified in me, as I am satisfied in you.

I pray for this day, Lord. Thank you for the rain. I pray that today will be a good work day for Christi and for me. Yesterday was kind of rough. But we made it through. Today is a new day, and your mercies are, indeed, new every morning. We are eternally being made new in your grace and mercy. I pray for Stephanie’s meeting with her teacher today. I’m also grateful for Stephanie’s determination to keep exercising. This is a new thing, and I pray that it continues.

I pray for our lifehouse meeting this evening.

Consider God today.

Grace and peace, friends.


There Will Be A Day

It’s Tuesday morning. I had to stop before I was finished yesterday morning, as is often the case on Monday mornings, since I go in to work an hour earlier on Mondays. I could get up earlier, but…
Yesterday was one of those afternoons/evenings where my spirit just kept getting more negative. You know how they go. Christi wound up having to work late, and I went out to get some BBQ. There were four or five cars in the drive through, and they weren’t processing orders the way they usually do, so it took longer. On the way back, some guy crossed the road to turn left and stopped with the back half of his SUV blocking the left lane (which I happened to be driving in), so I almost spilled BBQ sauce all over the front seat. Then we had a bit of a struggle with Stephanie over an unexpected ARD meeting that had been scheduled for next Tuesday, after Christi is already taking off Friday to take her to an appointment regarding Steph’s SSI benefits, AND having to take off Monday to help her mother move again. And then to top it all off, the Red Sox lost to the Rangers. Admittedly, the last thing was the least bothersome…but I just didn’t do well last night. But today’s another day, and we’ll try again. Moving forward and not worrying about what is behind.

Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
Isaiah 24
This chapter speaks of judgment on the entire earth.
1 Behold, the LORD will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
Could that be speaking of earthquakes? He goes on to speak of how lines of demarcation between people will be destroyed. There will be no difference between slave and master, creditor and debtor. 3 The earth shall be utterly empty and utterly plundered; for the LORD has spoken this word. Verse 11 says all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished.
But then suddenly, in verse 14, there are songs of praise! I guess verse 13 describes a remnant (the grape harvest?) which praises the Lord for salvation.
14 They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west.
15 Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
16 From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. But I say, “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me! For the traitors have betrayed, with betrayal the traitors have betrayed.”
Isaiah is simply unable to join in the praise, because, as God’s prophet, he sees the corruption around him.
The ensuing earthquake is terrifying.
18 He who flees at the sound of the terror shall fall into the pit, and he who climbs out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For the windows of heaven are opened, and the foundations of the earth tremble.
19 The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken.
20 The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again.

When the Lord reigns in his ultimate glory, the sun won’t even be able to shine, out of shame.
23 Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for the LORD of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and his glory will be before his elders.
Perhaps the most important message through all of this is that, when Christ returns, status will not matter. All will be affected in the same way.

Proverbs 6:6-11
Here we have a warning against being a sluggard.
6 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
7 Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
8 she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
11 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

There are, if I remember correctly, quite a few proverbs that describe the sluggard. But here, there is a warning against being lazy to the point that poverty will overtake. We are all to be about our business; whatever work the Lord gives us to do with our hands, we are to be doing it, not being lazy, not being sluggards. Otherwise, before we know it, poverty and want will strike.

Matthew 17:1-13
1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified.
7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”
8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
10 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?”
11 He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things.
12 But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.”
13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

This is the event most commonly known as “The Transfiguration.” What happened here? Well, this occurs six days (the timeline is exact) after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. This is a supernatural validation of Jesus’s ministry, and, in some way, a preparation for what is coming next in his mission. The appearance of Moses and Elijah at this event tie together the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel. The message of God will soon be complete, and we see that the Law and the Prophets point to Jesus Christ. Peter got all excited, as is his way, and wants to put up some tents, but before he can even get finished talking, we hear, for the second time, a voice from heaven declaring who Jesus is: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” This absolutely terrified the three disciples. They fell on their faces before Jesus, and when he touched them and had them rise, no one else was there. As they came down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone about this vision until he was resurrected. They begin asking him about Elijah, and Jesus tells them that Elijah (as prophesied by Malachi 4:5) has already come, in the person of John the Baptist.

Isaiah 25-26
Isaiah begins chapter 25 with a declaration of praise.
1 O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the foreigners’ palace is a city no more; it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
5 like heat in a dry place. You subdue the noise of the foreigners; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is put down.

The Lord is, indeed, our stronghold when we are poor, needy, or in distress; when we are battered by the storm and heat. Heaven help us if we are one of “the ruthless!” A child of God should never act in a way that could be described as “ruthless.”
Then we have a description of a most glorious event!
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.

The Lord will swallow up death forever! Hallelujah! We have waited for the Lord, the his salvation would come to us! (v. 9) We will be glad and rejoice in the salvation of the Lord!
Chapter 26 is a song of praise sung by Judah. Verses 3-4 are popular memory verses: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. As the righteous of God, our path is made level (v. 7).
The prophet expresses great desire for God in verse 9: My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. He prays in verse 11 that the world might see the zeal the Lord has for his people. The resurrection of the saints is predicted in verse 19: Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Proverbs 6:12-19
Verses 12-15 describe the telltale signs of a crooked, wicked person. He speaks with crooked speech, he winks, he signals even with his feet, points with his finger. He is constantly devising evil plans.
Then, in verses 16-19, there is a list of seven things that the Lord despises. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. I have heard messages that claim that the last one is the one the Lord hates most, but I don’t necessarily believe that. But we should take note that people who sow discord among God’s people are definitely in the top seven list if the things that God hates.

Father, this morning, I pray that I might do better at any tests or trials that come my way today. I pray that my aggravation level will be lower and that my tolerance level will be higher. Help me to remember that I belong to you. I pray that you keep this list of seven things at the front of my mind today, so that I might avoid all manner of things that displease you.
Along with Isaiah, Lord, I celebrate your salvation. I thank you that you are a fortress to us when we are poor and needy; that you are a shelter to us when we are in the middle of a storm or being battered by the heat. I pray that my mind will be centered on you so that I might achieve this perfect peace that Isaiah speaks of. I look forward to the day when you will ultimately swallow up death forever; that day when there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain. May I not try to hold onto the things of this world in light of the fact that this day will eventually be here.

I praise you for that coming day, Father! Maranatha, Lord Jesus! I look forward to the day when I see you face to face. But until that day, help me to hold onto you, Jesus!

I pray for this day, Father. Give Stephanie another great day at school. Let us not have struggles at home this evening. I pray that she will be a light to everyone around her this year as she shines with your love in her life. Give Christi and me a good day at work today.

Yes, there will be a day. But until that day, we must hold on to Christ with all we’ve got.

Grace and peace, friends