Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Blessing of Choice

At the beginning of the book of Deuteronomy Moses calls on Israel to
"remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee." (Deut. 8.2)

Now at the end in Deuteronomy (chapter 30) Moses stood before Israel
     with another word of God,
          the word of the Omnipotent,
               the ever present, 
                    "I am."

Israel stood poised at a place
     between a journey of forty years,
          and a future of conquest and possession.

Today we stand between a passing year and one about to be born.
There is a similarity between Israel's situation and our own.
And I believe God's word to Israel is applicable to ourselves.

A new world was opening before Israel,
a land of their own was awaiting,
places of dwelling and places to possess.

It was a New Time,
     and Israel was called to choose.

The decision to be faced was of the heart
not of the mind or even the "will,"
for these are never enough to hold up in the battles of life.
Defeat and judgement awaited '"if thine heart turn away." (vs. 17)
The fate of the future does not just "happen,"
     It is the result of a Decision.
There had to be a choice and a Commitment.
     There had to be a forsaking of a way of life,
          and a taking up of new responsibilities. 

So for us: as we enter into a new year.
God says to us, "My son, give me thine heart." (prov 23.26)
     There is a land of opportunity which God sets before us  
          a land which extends as far as we are willing to possess it.

We face a choice.
     It is a time to examine what we are looking for,
          a time to examine what we are aiming for.
     It is a time of counting the cost.
     It is a time of decision.

     What do we seek in this New Year?
          What do we set before us?
               And what must we leave behind? 
                    What does the New Commitment ask of us?

Moses made it very clear to Israel -
     "I have set before you life and death."
It is always so with God:
     the choice is always between Life and Death,
          there is no middle ground.

Life is an active choice -
     but Death comes unbidden if we fail to make that choice.

Moses includes another element,
     another commandment -
"I command thee this day to Love the Lord thy God." (vs. 16)
     Here is a commandment which reaches beyond the power of reasoning,
          and beyond our ability to measure.

This commitment rises high above all other commitments.
 This will hold when all else fails.
Love never passes away, but endures to the end.
"Love is strong as death." (Songs 8.6)

This is the way forward for this coming year,
     and for all the days of our lives.

          When our love meets God's Love, 
          nothing can destroy what He has determined for us.

                          In Him we conquer.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Jesus Came

Jesus CAME...

He was here - fully present in a time and a space, 
     after emptying Himself of His place in heaven.
He was here present as a servant - until His final rejection and crucifixion at the hands of those to whom He came.

He fully took this place of earth and made it His place 
     to live, 
          to minister, 
               to give and give again,  
                    and to die.

What a contrast with man living in his own unawareness.
There is a human escapism, and we think that the real self
     is not here where the body is.
It is hard to say, Today, here and now, is my home,
     today is where I must sow and where I must harvest ...
It is hard to face the fact that, "Now is the day of Salvation" (2Cor. 6.2)
     We need no other time or place to find fulfillment.
We see our dreams and our work elsewhere,
     tomorrow seems to offer so much more,
          and it is so easy to live in the fantasy land of tomorrow's horizons.
               It is so easy to see tomorrow as the place where I will flourish,
                    and to see today without responsibility or reward.
                         It is so easy to know our body here, 
                              while our real self is off in "greener pastures and wider horizons."

Tomorrow cannot be touched from where we are -      no matter how we try.   
Thoreau had it right when he said:
     "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Jesus Came ... let us come
     to the Time, the Place and the Task He has set before us.

Let this be our gift to Him at this time.
     Here is where God dwells.
          Here is where life's Completion is found.

               "I delight to do thy will, O my God." (Ps. 40.8)

Friday, December 20, 2019

God's Giving

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, 
how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8.32)

"Delivered up" ... "give" ... what do the words mean to us?
     God takes His own, 
          and gives Him to us,
               to be our own.
That which is given is irrevocably gone. 
It is now possessed by the recipient of the gift.

I wonder how much self-gratification there is in most of what we call giving?
How much somehow returns to us in one form or another?
I wonder how much self gratification there is in most of what we "give" to God?
     Maybe it is not the "losing" which pleases us?
          but the return in direct, or indirect, ways.

God's giving ... true giving ... is different - there is no measuring of return,
     no careful calculating the measure of the gift.
Can we give to him in the same way?
Don't we tend to give enough and no more?
     Man asks the question, "how much do I need to give?"
          What is meant is, "how little can I give?"

At this time of year we remember, and think of God's gift.
     I wonder, can we begin to understand the measure of that Gift?
          God gave His Son and freely gave all else beside.

Again, let us respond to that great Gift,
So let us extend ourselves to the abundance of the "all things" which He longs to give us,
     things which as yet we have not seen,
          things which go beyond all our limits of vision and experience -
                an abundance which is of the eternal realm of God.

"For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
And ye are complete in him." (Colossians 2: 9,10)
     God's Fulness for our Emptiness - 
          this is the measure of God's gift.

Part of a hymn by Francis Ridley Havergal comes to mind:
     "I gave, I gave My life for thee,
      What hast thou giv'n for Me?"

Let us worship -

                     Let us give back to Him the life we owe Him.

Monday, December 16, 2019

"It's not for you"

Halfway through the book of Job, 
     he is still lost, still without answers and still searching.
Chapter 23 verses 8 and 9 he speaks of his seeking  ...
     forward and backward, 
          to the right and to the left.
He searches without finding,
     and declares that God hides Himself.

I imagine him in this situation of frustration without answers,
feeling within himself the accusation of the enemy:
     "It's not for you"...
          not for you to see, 
               nor to hear, 
                    nor experience, 
                         the things you know to be true. 

In Jacob's life God dealt,
     throughout years of experience,
          in many times and places,
               until there was a final life changing encounter at the brook of Peniel.

But with Job the process of years was condensed in time and place.
Time was foreshortened, and in the earth shaking intensity of experience 
he found himself at the end of his resources.

His understanding collapsed but his faith held.
Two little phrases show his vision of God:
     "He knoweth" in verse 10
          and "He performeth: in verse 14.
God knows with whom He is working, 
     and God knows how to work with that one. 

There is a plan here -"He knoweth."
     And there is a fulfillment - "He performeth."
Our Unchangeable God always knows,
and His plans cannot be hindered in their fulfillment.

Job saw this and held on in his seeking,
     until at the end he saw,
          and entered a new place with God.

             Time moves on, but as one day gives place to another, 
let us hold fast to the Unchangeable God to find His purpose fulfilled in our lives.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

There is an Above and Beyond

The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills. (Gen.49.26)

It is a wonderful thing to go beyond what has been given to us by others.
It is a wonderful thing to find new possessions in the spiritual realm.

Jacob had fought and connived for the blessings inherited from Abraham and Isaac, but in the end he had found a place in God which was uniquely his own.
When Jacob came before Pharaoh, unlike Abraham, he was unafraid.
He did not have to dissimulate but was able, in total dominion, to extend a blessing to Pharaoh.
     He went beyond - he "prevailed above."

How amazing that God could take this twisted deceiver and transform him unto a "Prince with God." (Gen.. 32.28)
How amazing that this man, who was willing and able to deceive,
could be brought to a place where God could speak through him,
where God could use him as He willed.
     The years of his pilgrimage, the journeyings, trials and sorrows, had brought him to a place: 
     where he could readily allow God to choose the way for him to tread,
          where he could stand before the king of Egypt unafraid
               knowing that God in Whose Presence he dwelt was the only Omnipotent One.

Having learnt of God he could see the nations as dust, 
     and their rulers as insignificant in their power.

Having learnt of God Jacob was more than conqueror.

                          If we learn, so will we be also.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Finding a World

"The hearing ear ... the Lord hath made." (Prov. 20.12)

A baby, as it grows, develops its innate capacities -
eyesight, tact, and motor skills grow in proficiency.
But there is one area impossible to attain on one's own - the area of speech,
and the ability to hear and understand.

In order to attain this understanding there must always be another involved.
It is usually the mother who serves as a bridge 
between the lack of knowledge in the child, 
and the capacity of speech which names and interprets the world around.

Those born deaf, who have never met a teacher,
           live in a world, to us incomprehensible, and impenetrable.
               A world of utter, forever uninterrupted, silence.
                    A world where the meaning of things is lost.
A world filled with a consciousness of "lostness" in every minute of every day.
     When a person finds words the world is not only observed, 
          but it is "possessed."
 As the ear is able to interpret sound, understanding is made plain,
               and one finds one's own self in the process.
                    The world "belongs" to the ones who "hear."
As in the natural world so also in the spiritual world.     
     "The hearing ear" speaks of an ear which perceives,
           an ear which interprets the significance of what it hears.

We cannot find that world on our own.
Unless we are near enough to hear God speaking to us we will be forever ignorant of the spiritual world.

     Without the living Word,
          Without the Spirit quickened Word,
               there is no life for the Christian.
We may be "saved" and yet "lost" to the significance of salvation.

If we have received but tiny doses of truth at scattered times 
     we are like those who cannot hear - 
          prisoners deprived of our birthright.
The child must be with the mother in order to learn her language,
and the child of God must be with God in order to hear, understand and know Him.
          The road to spiritual perception has never changed,
          and all through the Bible God invites us to "Come."

"Come unto me ... and I will give" (Mt. 11.28) is a never failing promise.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Light that Shineth ...

How can one explain what light is?
How can we avoid the scientific terminology and yet understand?

And how can we analyze what spiritual light is?

I don't know!

It seems that we are asking the wrong question ...
     What is needed is not an explanation of light, 
          but an experience of light -
               only this will quiet the seeking of the mind.

The only way to know spiritual light is to experience it.
    And to really understand we must see it - 
          only this will satisfy the seeking of the heart.
             This Light has meaning only when we find it present in our lives.

God is the Source of Light and it is to Him we must look.
     Light is, because God is. 
          If we want to be illuminated in our understanding we need only to look to Him.

One thing is certain in the Word of God:
     Light and the darkness don't mix.
From whence then comes this madness of pushing the limits of what is acceptable in the Christian faith?
What is this insane rushing to go to the absolute limit of the "permissible" in the pew and in the pulpit, in order to facilitate our own plans and purposes?
     The Light of God flees from all such things.

If we look at a source of light, all else is dark and shadowy.

If we embrace the way the earthly realm operates does it not say to us that we have never really seen the Light "as it is in Christ Jesus."
     To enter into such derangement is to enter realms of obscurity ...
          and the simple and glorious gospel becomes lost in darkness.

Can we cut ourselves free from the things which bind mankind - 
     the fear of man, the greed of ambition, and all other self interest?
          Can we turn to the Light to behold "with open face," 
               until the brightness of His person illuminates all within,
                    and the darkness is no more?

Paul saw the Light and  said, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:  (Phil. 3.8)
     There was no limit,
          no compromise,
               no half-way commitment.
There was only a walking in that Light which "shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Pr. 4.18)
     - a walking step by step, without rest or stopping places.

          This is the same pathway God sets before us ..."let us run."