Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Today - an Ending and a Beginning

Our minds play tricks with us -
we see something and isolate the parts we like,
and ignore the rest of the context.

When we apply this approach to scripture we easily lose meaning and purpose. 

Isaiah's picture of the desert transformed (Is. 35) is beautiful, 
But it is easy to ignore the preceding chapter which tells us when the desert will be transformed.
It is easy to forget that the transformation will be after the "day of the Lord's vengeance." (34.8)

It is easy to forget that "all her princes shall be nothing." (34.12)
     The rulers and  the leaders will be incapable of leadership.
It is easy to forget that the palaces and fortresses shall be forsaken. (34.13)
     The places of the government will be void of meaning, of resource.

It is easy to forget that all man built society is collapsed when God comes.
It is easy to refuse to look around ourselves and ask if at this present time 
this is not the state of the world in which we live?

How bad do things have to get before we realize the events around us 
are not  merely a speed bump on the highway of life?
     We hear that "All these things will soon be over and life will resume?" ...   
          God told you that? ...Really?
               Really ... when governments, churches and individuals are bent on
               leaving God behind, or trying to "contemporise" Him?
How much more has to collapse before we realize that we are incapable,
     and only God has the answers?
          How much longer until we come to the end of our striving to make it 
          all work?

In Chapter 35.1 Starts with the desert,
     the empty places where only the beasts are found -
          the earth as it was before man was ever created.

It is to this place God comes -
this place to which man's own governance has finally brought him.
     "The wilderness...the solitary place...and the desert,"
     three similar terms express the death and the emptiness.
          Gladness, rejoicing and blossom in the same verse -
          three expressions of response toward God.

Verse 2 is an amplification of verse 1 -abundant blossom ... joy and singing
... glory.
     Man has no more place, God Himself is taking over.
          Transformation is now the rule of the desert.
               "Old things are passed away;
                    ... all things are become new." (2Cor 5.17)

The rest of the chapter enlarges this theme -
the things that take place when God comes and controls.

And the chapter ends with a highway through the desert.
The desert gloriously transformed is the mere scenery, 
through which God has built a road,
to the city of God - the place where God Himself dwells with His own.

Here, with overflowing joy, His own return to restoration, -
"joy and happiness in their grasp now."
     They return to the place where the Presence of God is in the midst,
     and the joy is everlasting.


Monday, June 22, 2020

"I Believe God"

"I believe God." (Acts 27.25)

Faith is the first thing we bring in our recognition of God.
We could say that faith is the only essential thing in our recognition.

If we have faith all else will come under its shadow.
     When we truly Believe we will surrender,
          we will see the pathway of obedience,
               we will find the way of love,
                    indeed we will find opened to us all the paths of Life.

Paul's experience in the storm is such a picture of life.
He was on a journey, with a God ordained purpose.
     A ship was found, and wind to carry it.
And yet the unforeseen took over and battered all plans
     until all was lost and even life was seen to be at an end.
"All hope"... how absolute ... 
     "all hope that we should be saved was taken away."

How it shows life's processes:
man alone cannot prevail,
our hopes and resources are shredded by reality.
The spiritual lies beyond the natural,
and nothing changes until all hope is gone.

God's message came to Paul, and he said to the sailors,
"wherefore" - because of this, "be of good cheer."

And Paul furthered his explanation saying
"I believe God, that it shall be."

This is always the secret.
     We are always safe in the Word of God.
Faith in that which God has spoken always makes a way,
     through all the storms,
          through all the darkness,
               through all the need, 
                    and through all the fears.

God had spoken before the journey ever began,
"Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." (Acts 23.11)
     Now Paul repeated the words to those around him, "be of good cheer."

What a picture - "Paul stood forth in the midst of them" -
     stood to proclaim in the midst of the winds and the waves,
          stood to proclaim when all others had abandoned hope.
How the words must have filled the space, "I BELIEVE GOD."
     The waves had no more power to destroy for God had ordained otherwise.
     All ship and cargo may be lost but not one life. 

God is the giver of life, and the enemy cannot take it from God's children.
     "My times are in Thy hand" ...says Psalm 31.13.
          All our times...all the things which make up our lives,
               are secure in His keeping.

               And God will bring us also, safe through the storm.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

"I Will Restore"

Darkness is descending around us like a hurricane 
     and all stability is shaken.
Societies around the world seek to move forward,
     while the past rises up to remind of all that has been lost.
Lost not only all around us, but also in our own lives -
     there are things now forever beyond our reach. 
Day dreams and self-generated optimism never stand up in the light of reality.
     We need to hear the  voice of God.

The voice of God created the worlds,
and everything which exists owes its origin to the same Source.

In our lives, not only in our spiritual birth, but in our daily existence, 
we depend upon the Word of God for our quickening.

In Joel 2.25 God says, "I will restore to you the years."
There is something here which brings a speechless amazement.
The declaration jumps beyond the workings of our mind,
and impacts in the deeper realms where life itself is found.

Restoration is impossible in the sphere of time.
That which has been swallowed up by the passing years can return no more.
     But when God speaks creation takes place -
     blind eyes are made to see,
     the deaf hear, and the weak are made strong.
When God speaks there is not just an influx of life, 
but there is a true bringing again of what time has consumed.

How far does this promise reach?
Can God restore us to the highest point in our past? 
Can He restore us to the heaven ordained possibilities of our lives?

God renews and recreates that which has been lost. 
He sets before us every passing day a new world of possibilities as infinite as Himself. 

Restoration has been the need of all mankind ever since man's loss in the garden of Eden.
Decadence has been the journey of men and nations.
"All decays and nothing is forever," -
and yet ... God is forever,
and His plan and His power are forever.

He can reach into the past and bring again,
just as surely as He brought Lazarus from the tomb -
so with each human life,
so with each of His children.  

At the end of time there will be a new creation -
New Heavens and a New Earth.
But for us, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: 
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2Cor. 5.17)
The God of Time and Eternity is able to bring us to a new world even now.

     At this time, this juncture of history: 
                           May God's Life be restored as our life,
                           May God's Light be restored as our light.

          May we walk in a sure Path through the surrounding darkness.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020


"Is it Nothing to you?"

Just one little phrase in the almost forgotten little book of Lamentations -
the lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah
living in the time of God's rejection 
of those who were called to be His people.

It is a book of pain and pathos,
a book written in the presence of unutterable and immeasurable  loss.

"Is it Nothing?"
     This is the cry of Jerusalem, 
          the cry of Jeremiah, 
               the cry of God.

From the depths of hurt, and pain, the cry is to those who are passing by -
     those who are oblivious to the desolation -
          going somewhere, doing something, important to them.

Maybe the state of the world, and perhaps of the church,
     could be summed up in one word: Unawareness.

It is easy to say, "we see" as the Jews did in Jesus' day.
Yet it is possible to be as unaware of blindness as was the church at Laodicea.

It is possible to be as unaware as the Jews, and their priests, 
when they mocked the One Who was separated from God on the cross,
bearing the depths of the pain of their separation from God.

Both the Old and the New Testaments speak much of sight and of light,
but also both Testaments speak of blindness and darkness.

There is nothing so tragic as a person who is unaware -
     the blind man traveling through a world which is hidden to him,
          or the deaf man surrounded by sounds whose significance he cannot perceive.

Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind, "to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death." (Luk. 1.79)
    This is the gift of Awareness.
          Here is to be found the answer the question, "is it nothing?"  

This is where with open eyes we can see what God shows, 
     and feel the pulse of His heart.

Here that which was "nothing" to us,  
     becomes "everything" to us.
          And we Live because we See.


Monday, June 1, 2020

What is the Message?

As the years go by I am finding more and more how different passages of Scripture parallel each other -
seeing how they reinforce and amplify the message they repeat.

I am thinking now of the book of Genesis and the book of Malachi;
the first and the last books of the Old Testament.

In Genesis we have God alone,
     creating a perfect world,
          only to see that creation marred as Adam disobeyed.
We see Adam then, overcome with Fear at the Presence of God,
facing the consequence of his sin.

In Malachi we have God once again drawing close to mankind
and speaking -
     but this time we see man,
          not fearful in recognition of his guilt,
               but taking upon himself to argue with God.
What a contrast is there.

Centuries of history, and many generations have elapsed since Adam,
     and now man, distant from God,
          satisfied in his own slovenly adherence to his religious concepts,
               dares to argue with the Almighty.

Seven times in the book man throws God's words back on Him 
     asking God "why" He should say what He says,
          inferring that man is right and God is wrong.

I wonder how God sees us all today?
Maybe the book of Revelation provides another similar passage -
     God coming to the church of Laodicea, 
"wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,"(Rev.3.17)
     but all the while affirming her wealth and sufficiency.

I wonder how do we see God?
Do we tremble as Adam?
Or do we take God for granted as the generation of Malachi,
or of Laodicea?

Do we ever search for an eternal purpose in life, greater than ourselves?
     Do we ever try to understand God Himself,
     His infinite Life, Mercy and Love?
          Do we ever ask what is man, 
          and what was God's purpose in mans creation?
               Or are our lives wrapped up in our own shortsightedness,
               unable to really see anything beyond what affects our daily existence?
('Our own things will make a pretty small bundle at the judgement,' a preacher used to say.)

Malachi is a book of Judgement and a book of Appeal.
     Appeal from the God Who starts the book saying "I loved you" (1.2)
          The call is to seek until God "suddenly come to His temple." (3.1)
               The promise is of abundant blessing.

But there is one phrase that sticks with me today,
     "Ye shall go forth."  (4.2)

There is a world there ... a world of freedom,
     a world of deliverance from the things which bind mankind -
          the things which bound Adam, 
          the things which bound the hearers of Malachi's message,
          the things which bind the generation in which we live.

What a world is there:
     to go forth ... to God, 
          to go forth ... to Life,
               to go forth ... to freedom,
finding a realm which, in God, is Eternal -
     infinite, beyond measure in all directions.