God is good.

Thanking God for the Weekend

God is good.

It was a really rough week.

I got sick and struggled in my preparations for a major portfolio presentation because of it. I had to handle a difficult client, battled with doubt and anger. Reached the end of my patience. Dealt with late and missed deadlines….

All I can say is that I’m glad I survived. As I look into my study journal I notice that when I need God the most he speaks to me the loudest. When my strength is insufficient he helps me to overcome and go beyond my own expectations. There was pain this week, but through it all He was there.

God is good indeed. Wishing you a happy weekend spent with Him 🙂

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Perfection - the ultimate example is God - The example our Lord gives us is not that of a good man, or even a good Christian, but of God himself. “Be ye therefore perfect”…

Perfect

“…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:44-48 NIV)

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“Take Me to You…”

Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

–John Donne, Holy Sonnet 14

Let’s be blunt, and say that there is no middle ground. There is no “Self” that thinks and acts on its own initiative and has no Master. The truth is that you are either a slave to Christ or a slave to Satan—that’s it.

As a slave to Christ, you are—indeed—free. But you can’t be free until he storms the castle of your cherished self, demolishes your ego, and enthrones himself in the seat of your heart. As a slave to Christ, you live day by day dependent on him, looking daily at his pure, holy, and loving character and by his grace the chains of sin that bind you are torn. The key to this freedom is the outright possession of your life by God. Apparent slavery. Are you willing to give up the control of your life?

On the other hand, as a slave to Satan you are under the impression that you have the greatest freedom imaginable (after all, isn’t the crummy Decalogue and the word of God nothing short of a yoke meant to keep you from all you really want to do?). The longer you’re under this regime, however, the more confined and debased you become. Apparent freedom is nothing more than self-destructive slavery that degrades you and your view of self, God, and the world around you.

I’ve come to realize that freedom is simply a matter of perspective, in which I must take into account whatI’m being freed from, and what I’m being freed to do. The good news of it all is that YOU choose what master you want to serve. No one can ever take that choice from you. So choose wisely.

May you choose the Master that frees you from degradation and confusion and frees you to be the person you were meant to be—free to do what is both great and fulfilling.

“For You have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love” Gal 5:13

The Siren's Song

When the Sirens Sing

Enjoying intimacy with God involves walking in the Spirit. And walking in the Spirit MUST involve gaining victory over the flesh. It’s not a life of no longer being tempted. It is a life of overcoming temptation.

The following is entirely from J. Oswald Sanders; a passage I read this morning that I thought I should share:

The key is not the mere damming back of the temptation, only for it to break out once again, worse than ever. It is the counteraction operation of a higher and more powerful law. The principle [can be] powerfully illustrated in the Greek myths of Ulysses and the sirens, and Jason and the Argonauts.

When Ulysses and his men set out on their journey of conquest, they were warned by Circe to avoid the sirens at all costs. She told them that the sirens’ voices were alluring but fatal to all who stopped to listen. The unfortunate listeners became rooted like a tree and could not tear themselves away, until they died of hunger.

“Fill your companions’ ears with wax” she counseled. “If you yourself want to listen to their song, first let your men bind you securely to the mast.” Ulysses heeded her advice. “If the melody beguiles me,” he ordered them, “I charge you, disobey my word, and bend more strongly to your oars.”

At length Ulysses heard the beautiful strains that stole into his mind, overpowered his body, and overcame his will. As the music came sweeter and sweeter, Ulysses’ love for home weakened. He struggled with his shame, but at last the bewitching voices of the sirens prevailed.

“Loose me and let me stay with the sirens!” he raged. He threatened and entreated… He raged and tore at his bonds, for it was agony for him to leave the spot. But not until the last sound of music died away did they loose him. He had passed out of the zone of temptation.

Jason with his Argonauts set out in search of the Golden Fleece. Medea warned Jason and his men of the menace of the sirens, as they began to hear their bewitching strains. All around they could see the shore strewn with the bones of those who had succumbed to the sirens’ charms.

On board the boat was Orpheus, the king of minstrels. “Let them match their songs with mine,” he challenged the three maidens whom they could see, and whose silvery voices stole over the moonlit waters…The oars of Jason’s heroes fell from their hypnotized hands.

“Sing louder! Wake up these sluggards!” Medea cried to Orpheus. Orpheus struck his skillful hand over the strings of his lyre, and his voice rose like a trumpet. The music penetrated the souls of the infatuated men, and their souls thrilled. Orpheus kept on singing until his voice completely drowned the voices of the sirens. Once again the Argonauts took up their oars, and Jason and his men sailed to victory.

“Sing the song again, Orpheus,” they cried. “We will dare and suffer to the last.”

* * *

These stories strikingly illustrate two possible ways of gaining victory over the desires of the flesh. One is the way of negations and prohibitions. They are of some help and have their place. Ulysses was bound, otherwise he would have yielded to the cravings of his heart. His men had wax in their ears, or they too would have yielded. But it is an incontrovertible fact that to concentrate the mind on the desires of the flesh, if only to conquer them, seems to intensify the desires.

How much better is the Orphean music than the Ulyssian wax! With the heavenly Orpheus on board, as we listen to His heavenly music, the voices of the sirens lose the power of their appeal, and our spirits are set free.

It is all a matter of who is in control of the life. The self-life with its unlawful desires and tendencies is the citadel of the fleshly principle, and will continue to dominate until it is consigned to the cross. Paul wrote: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24). That is involved in walking by the Spirit and results in our emancipation from yielding to the desires of the flesh.

– – –

Sanders, J. Oswald. Enjoying Intimacy with God “Walking in the Spirit”

For That ONE Person

If you could sacrifice yourself, give every drop of your life’s blood, and every ounce of your flesh in the fire for the sake of saving all your family–would you?

How about for that one member of your family who is rebellious, who has decided to cut all ties with mum and dad, who curses at you when you approach them, and just wants to be on their own doing their own thing–even if it means that they are rushing headlong to an early and violent death? Would you?

If your answer is yes, then you are a better person than most. There’s a bunch of people out there who claim they would, but if I (and you) think about that person who I’m still struggling to forgive because of all the hurt they have caused back in my childhood– sometimes the answer is an uncertain “yes” at best.

The universal family includes all of us here on earth, the angelic beings in heaven, and the other beings we don’t really know about from other worlds God has created. Of the untold billions of members in that family, our little world is but a mere speck. A black speck. A smudge in the perfection of God’s kingdom.

Jesus could have been asked the same question by wonder-filled cherubim who couldn’t understand his choice.

“Are you willing to die for that black speck? By the people who run away from you when you approach them, and who will curse you, torture you, tear you apart, and nail you on a cross? Will you continue to love them knowing they might not love you back?”

We know the answer.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NKJV)

By his life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen….Through the eternal ages He is linked with us….By love’s self-sacrifice, the inhabitants of earth and heaven are bound to their Creator in bonds of indissoluble union….The earth itself, the very field that Satan claims as his, is to be not only ransomed but exalted. Our little world, under the curse of sin the one dark blot in His glorious creation, will be honored above all other worlds in the universe of God. Here, when he shall make all things new, the tabernacle of God shall be with men, “and he will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” – E. G. White, Desire of Ages “God With Us”

If we are Christians, we follow and do and say what Christ would do and say too.

Would I be willing to seek others? Willing to sacrifice the comfortable habits of my life for the sake of ONE person who needs to be reached?

Or has the miracle of self-sacrificing love not become a reality in my life?

Blue

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

Blue.

Such a pretty color. Psychologically it transmits peace, tranquility, and brings calm. It has a Biblical meaning too. It is said that it is the color of God’s throne is blue:

Above the dome over [the winged creatures’s] heads was something that looked like a throne made of sapphire. On the throne was a figure that looked like a human (Ezekiel 1:26 GW)

The color blue was used extensively in the tabernacle. When God was giving directions to Moses on how to make it, he went into great detail on the colors it should have: blue, purple, and scarlet. The three colors were always mentioned in that order: blue first, then the color of royalty (purple), and then the color of power and wealth (crimson). God instructed the Israelites to incorporate the color in their clothing, on the edge of their robes for a singular reason:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart…so you shall be holy to your God” (Numbers 15:37-40)

Blue, then, is representative of the word of God. Wearing it meant that you faithfully obeyed his commandments. That is why, the priest’s clothing included an ephod, embroidered in blue, purple, and scarlet, and over it went a robe from a single piece of blue woven cloth. (Ex. 39:27). The entire priestly garment with its beautiful colors (of which blue was always predominant) was an insigne to what the golden badge on his forehead plainly stated HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

* * *

The book of Revelation has many startling images, all rife with symbolism. Here is a particular one of interest:

One of the seven angels who held the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of that notorious prostitute who sits on raging waters. The kings of the earth had sex with her, and those living on earth became drunk on the wine of her sexual sins.” Then the angel carried me by his power into the wilderness. I saw a woman sitting on a bright red beast covered with insulting names. It had seven heads and ten horns. The woman wore purple clothes, bright red clothes, gold jewelry, gems, and pearls. In her hand she was holding a gold cup filled with detestable and evil things from her sexual sins. A name was written on her forehead. The name was Mystery: Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Detestable Things of the Earth. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people and of those who testify about Jesus. I was very surprised when I saw her. (Rev 17: 1-6)

The woman sitting on the beast represents a false church. She is even wearing the colors that were found in the tabernacle of God–even mentioned in the same order–except for one: Blue. She has the trappings of the church’s authority and prestige, but she is a church that is neither holy nor godly, or even obedient to all of God’s commandments. A vast contrast to the humble beginnings of the true church!

* * *

Symbolically speaking, God’s children, and his church, should keep in mind that we are to be clad  in blue–the color of holiness and obedience to the Lord. Before you get caught up in the piety, the sacrifices for God, and the motions of being a devout Christian, you need to first get caught up in his word. After all, obedience is what he requires from you.

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15) 

Preventing Identity Theft

Identity Theft

I swiped my card for the fourth time, with great misgivings in my heart.

*DENIED*

“Do you want to try sliding it again, ma’am?” The lady at the register of my neighborhood grocery store said.

I nodded, and tried again, barely conscious of the fact that I was holding up the line–the customers behind me could have been very annoyed, but I didn’t care. Nor did I care about the person bagging my $30 worth of groceries–who could have been shaking his head and slowly, and ever so surreptitiously begun to unbag the groceries he’d already put in my cart. I was only conscious of one thing . . . my mounting frustration.

Later I called and complained to my banking institution. What gives? I have more than enough money to cover this measly $30! It was then that I was told that there were some questionable transactions that I needed to verify… Transactions that did not conform to my spending habits… and only THEN did I notice the recently-posted transactions on my account… it had not been 24 hours since someone spent hundreds of dollars from my debit card on some random internet purchases, and my bank had blocked my card as a safety measure.

I panicked–wouldn’t YOU if an amount equivalent to a week’s worth of work is suddenly swiped from your account by some anonymous thief?

* * *

I was studying today for a discussion I’m leading on Saturday, when I came across an interesting sermon that put the idea of “Identity Theft” in an interesting light. I want to share it with you….

One of the crimes that is beginning to take off in our high-tech, information-driven society is known as identity theft. . . . This crime is well named because as far as the credit and banking systems are concerned, the person using the information is the same person whose name is on the card or account. For all practical purposes, there has been an exchange of identity.

What identity thieves accomplish illegitimately, Jesus Christ has accomplished legitimately for believers. That is, He has affected an exchange of identity with you. Christ did not simply come to change your life. He came to exchange your life for His [1].

I hope that you are never a victim of Identity Theft. However, I DO sincerely hope that if anyone is to take over your identity, it be Christ. When he takes over your life, you don’t end up losing, but gaining much, much more than you ever had to begin with…

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20)

– – –

[1] Krell, Keith, “Courting Sin” https://bible.org/seriespage/courting-sin-1-corinthians-61-11