Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Grateful for His Jealousy

"Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy?" (Proverbs 27:4 NASB)

"for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14 NASB)

Though a fiercely sinful attribute in man, jealousy is an admirable quality of the God we are to take seriously. Someone has defined His jealousy as "praiseworthy zeal to preserve something supremely precious." What would be supremely precious that our God would preserve with infinite zeal?

*His Name The deeper our awareness of the holiness of His Name, the greater our amazement that He would call us (!) to represent Him. And when we, like Isaiah, "see" Him high, lifted up, and greatly exalted, with the angelic hosts declaring His thrice-holiness, we,too, should tremble to think that His Name is at stake in our lives.

*His Word "...You have magnified Your word above all Your name, " (Psalms 138:2c) NKJV If even finite and mortal man strives to make his word his bond, how much incomparably more does the infinite God of the universe jealously preserve His Word. Of the many arguments for the inerrancy of the original manuscripts of Scripture, this facet of God's character makes certain the maintaining of their flawless inspiration.

*His Temple In John 2, we read of the Lord Jesus' driving the money-changers from the temple (v. 15). Upon witnessing His righteous indignation, the disciples were reminded of Psalms 69:9, "...zeal for Your house has consumed me." By way of spiritual application, we who are the born-again ones are temples, too--- living residences of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19). As a part of preserving the purity of the temples of His presence, He has provided His Holy Spirit's ministry of filling (Eph. 5:18), the cleansing power of His Son's blood (I John 1:9), and complete spiritual armor (Eph. 6:13--18).

*His Bride Perhaps the epitome of this praiseworthy zeal to preserve something supremely precious is the bridegroom/bride relationship. Just as there is to be no third party to intrude upon the one-to-one intimacy of husband and wife, so the Lord Jesus is rightfully jealous for the church, for the ones for whom He laid down His life (Eph. 5:25). Should our eye wander, and our heart begin to drift, and leave our first love, be assured He will not accept such idolatry complacently (Heb. 12:6).

How should these thoughts affect our walk with the Lord? Praise in prayer for His jealousy comes first to mind. Pondering long over the love shown in His zeal will result in great gratitude. Among all the attributes others may adore, I, for one, will be grateful for His jealousy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Promises to Keep

"... He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises..." (II Peter 1:4).

Of the challenges in life, somewhere near the top is following through. We have such good intentions (yes, the road to hell is probably paved with them), and believe ourselves to be trustworthy, yet the longer we live the higher the price we must pay in energy & effort if we would follow through on the promises we make.

In stark contrast, how good it is to know that the promises made by the Father can by no means fail. For they are but extensions of His character. And a promise is only as reliable as the one making it. So His promises are precious and magnificent because (a.) He is immutable, (b.) He is omniscient, and (c.) He is omnipotent.

(a.) "I, the LORD, do not change;" (Malachi 3:6) Could His character change, were He to vacillate with the tides of time, His Word would be suspect and His promises questionable. His statements of certainty would produce cynicism, instead of faith. His declarations and pronouncements of intention would become admirable at best, but laughable at worst. In short, He would not be God, and His promises anything but precious or magnificent.

(b.) So often our promises fail from lack of foresight. Locked in time and unable to see tomorrow and beyond, our best intentions are thwarted, forcing us to have a Plan B, or C, or worse. And the farther down the road of life we traverse, the uncertainties mount rather than diminish.

How refreshing is God's absolute knowledge! He states, "...I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.'" (Isaiah 46: 9b, 10). I rejoice to trust One Whose promises stem from an absolute knowledge of every contingency, every potentiality, every possible outcome. Taking Him at His Word, trusting His "eyes" to see what I cannot, heightens my anticipation and expectancy that He will keep every promise perfectly.

(c.) Finally, there are promises we make that we cannot keep because we do not have the strength to do so. As years take their toll, promises become rarer from an innate sense that the physical ability to keep them is diminishing. And only the Lord knows how many promises made by mortal man remain unkept because death intervened.

How I love Jeremiah 32: 27 and 17 (in that order)! God says, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?" And Jeremiah boldly declares, "Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You."

Much do we need to meditate upon, and memorize these words! We need to speak them confidently into the face of our direst circumstances, rehearse them in the hearing of our omnipotent God when staring at seemingly insurmountable barriers. He who unchangingly knows our every heartache and need, who has known these times from all eternity, who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, and has infinite resources at His disposal--- He will do what He has said He will do!

We honor Him by praising Him at ALL times for His precious and magnificent promises.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Challenge of Waiting II

(1) Waiting is a great revealer. When God's timing fits ours, our spiritual immaturity doesn't show. It's when His timetable conflicts with ours that our impatience surfaces. And His delay (as we see it), with its inevitable waiting, forces us to face the otherwise-hidden recesses of our selfish heart.

(2) Waiting is one of our Lord's best tools for getting our attention.
Only He could know how much we would ignore Him, take Him for granted, and fall into rank ingratitude did He not force us to wait upon Him. Our hearts are so easily distracted, our spiritual attention span so pitifully short, that the One who deserves our undivided often uses waiting to gain our gaze again.

(3) Waiting provides time for spiritual inventory. The command to "examine ourselves" (I Corinthians 11:28), applies to much more than only taking the Lord's Supper. As we wait on the Lord, we should be continually seeking to see if unconfessed sin in any form has defiled our conscience, and broken our fellowship with Him.

(4) Waiting gives proper perspective. Intellectually we know that we are to "set our mind on the things above, and not on the things that are on earth," "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith," (Colossians 3:2; Hebrews 12:2). Yet, how easily we become immersed in daily circumstances & situations, becoming consumed with the demands made upon us. Suddenly, we are forced to wait. And as we give God our complete focus, His priorities become paramount. We again understand that that which is seen is temporal, while that which is unseen is eternal.

We learn that the price required to take God seriously is well worth the wait, both in time and for eternity.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Challenge of Waiting I

"Rest (Be still) in the Lord and wait patiently (longingly) for Him; Fret not yourself, it leads only to evildoing," (Psalm 37:7a, 8b. NASB).

Resting and waiting. Two of the most difficult disciplines in the life of one who takes God seriously. Both are completely counter to the restless spirit of hurry that is the world's.

To rest is to relax in the sovereign care of God's Person and provision. "...those who know Your name will put their trust in You," (Psalm 9:10). The better we know Him, the more we will trust Him. The reason we do not trust Him, is because we do not know Him.

The one who cultivates a trustful attitude in waiting gains a confidence that His timing is as precise and praiseworthy as His will. Indeed the eagerly-waiting believer comes to understand that timing is everything. He comes to have no desire for God's will done in his time. He longs only for His will to be done in His time.

Here, then, is the antidote for feverish fretting: faithing the Father in His sovereignty and providence; confident in His trustworthy reign as King over all, and sensitive to His supervising of circumstances.

As we take Him seriously, as well as His Word, we will learn to wait with a yearning that pleases Him greatly, increases our faith, and bears witness to His faithfulness.