Who’s in Control?

We all struggle with control issues – some more than others. We try so hard to tell ourselves that we know what we are doing; that we know what’s best for us; that as long as we don’t let go and let someone else call the shots then life will be just fine.  There is only problem with this… God has made us so that when He is in control of our lives we find our true purpose and meaning. All else leads to struggle, pain and trials.  We learn so stubbornly that we are not very good at controlling our lives. It’s not until we surrender all to His authority that we find the freedom that Christ has planned for us.

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Jottings – The Better Way

Jottings

Commenting on Psalm 139:23,24

 

“…’Search me’. ‘Know my heart’. ‘Try me’. ‘Know my thoughts’. If there should be in him any wicked or grievous way of which he was not aware, he wanted to know it. He wanted the better way, the good way, the way everlasting.”

J M Flanigan, Ritchie Old Testament Commentaries, What the Bible Teaches, Psalms, John Ritchie Ltd. 2001, Kilmarnock, Scotland. p. 598.

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The Times They Are A Changin’, But One Remains The Same

Time

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, and thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from eternity to eternity thou art God. Psalm 90:1-2, J.N. Darby’s Translation (JND)

Another year is almost history. As 2012 dawns, the world is as uncertain and dangerous as ever. Economic turmoil, political upheaval, warfare, and natural disasters will remain with us into the new year. At this season, when time is on many people’s minds, it is good to remember that there is a timeless Creator: an eternal being – that is to say, He never had a beginning and shall never have an ending. He always was loving, wise, gracious, and holy, and He will continue to exhibit these glorious attributes as ages pile upon ages (Ephesians 2:7.) As Psalm 90:2 expresses it: “even from eternity to eternity thou art God.

 

The Sands Of Time

Moses was the human amanuensis that the Lord used to write the 90th Psalm. His bittersweet experience of shepherding God’s chosen nation, Israel, in the desert is described in this lovely prayer. Man’s frailty and transience is accentuated as Moses reflects on their disobedience and the divine judgment that it brought upon the generation that disbelieved the Almighty’s promises. Instead of prospering in the promised land, they were languishing in the wilderness until the last of that generation died off. How many funerals had he attended? How many grieving families did he console? He affirms that:

You carry them away like a flood; They are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers. For we have been consumed by Your anger, And by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh (Psalms 90:5-9.)

Seventy year life spans were the norm; if one saw his eightieth birthday it was remarkable. Yet even the longest life-spans are tinged by sadness, regret, weakness, and – from the human perspective – seeming futility. In the midst of this tale of time’s ravages upon humanity, how good it is to know that there is mercy available from the Almighty.

 

One Whose Goings Forth Have Been Of Old

Just as Israel brought their calamity upon themselves by their personal rebellion against the Creator; likewise, we moderns have forged our own chains and created our own catastrophes on planet earth. It is common for skeptics to lay the blame upon God, but in our hearts we know that we do and say things that compound the misery. All the while, time ebbs away, speeding us on towards eternity.

Amazingly, the Creator Himself entered into time to liberate us from our hopeless fate (Micah 5:2.) The Son of God became a man that He might die on the cross for our sins; thus identifying with our fleeting lives. The eternal one was “cut off from the land of living” that He might reconcile us to God by removing the rebellious deeds and hearts that separated us from Him (Isaaiah 53:8.) He did nothing to contribute to the world’s ills, yet He suffered for them nonetheless.

 

Time To Reflect

Moses ends the psalm with a plea for divine mercy, asking the Lord to “…teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12.) This would be a helpful prayer for anyone to pray in the new year. For the unbeliever, it is a call to recognize the brevity of life and their need of a Savior for a blessed eternity. Time is short, so repent and receive Christ while there is still time (John 3:16.)

For the believer, it is no less important to remember that our days are numbered. We only have a certain amount of time to serve the Lord in this present scene. As the old poem expresses it: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past/Only what’s done for Christ will last.” To see our lives count for eternity we must follow the Scriptural instruction: “…redeeming the time because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16.) Each day ought to be lived with the Master’s interests in view. We must ask, what does the Lord want me to do with my time? How much will I surf the net? What will I read, watch, or listen to? How will I grow in my relationship with the Lord, with His people, and equip myself for eternity? All of these things must be borne in mind as we face a new year. The eternal God will be the same in 2012, and wants us to know, enjoy, and serve Him.

Written by: Keith R. Keyser
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Photo: flickr/englishsnow

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Entry Level Theological Truth [3]

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

Light is frequently used metaphorically in the Bible. For example, Psalm 119:130 declares: “The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” There it obviously refers to light’s elucidating character: it shows things as they actually are; therefore, it conveys intelligence, understanding, and wisdom. Of course, the Scriptures also use this versatile symbol to depict good versus evil (e.g. 1 John 1:5-7.) All wisdom, truth, and goodness are rooted in the Creator’s own being; this light is supremely revealed in His Word.

God is speaking, is anyone listening?

From the outset of creation, it is evident that God verbally reveals Himself. “God said” is repeated ten times throughout the Bible’s first chapter. Hebrews 1:1-2 reiterates this truth in these words: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” This incomparable Son – called the Word in John 1:1 – is the chief means of God’s self-disclosure. There is a vital connection between Him and the written Word of God, for it is in the Scriptures that He most clearly shows Himself.

Today people often ignore God’s Word in favor of their own notions and opinions, yet this is a grave mistake. Genesis 1 demonstrates that God’s Word is powerful: He speaks and light appears, life is created, the stars are formed – all without difficulty. His Word is effective; it accomplishes whatever He says.

The Word of God is living and powerful

Thankfully, the New Testament affirms that the Scriptures also effect new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17.) A sinner, spiritually separated from his Maker, upon believing the Word is transformed by it. This change is described in the Bible as being born again (John 3); it is a brand new beginning, offering a new relationship with the Creator through His Son Jesus (John 17:3.) The content of that Word is the glorious story of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, followed by His triumphant resurrection, and His glorious ascension back to heaven (1 Corinthians 15.) 1 Peter 1:23 describes the eternal and abiding result of believers who are born again by this Word: “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”

The same Word that saves also sanctifies: that is, it changes a believer into a holy being who reflects the character of His Lord (John 17:17.) This work will culminate in every true Christian being conformed to Christ’s glorious image (Romans 8:28-30.) Believers will be transformed inside and out in the most extreme makeover ever seen in the universe. What is more, they will share in “the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12.) God’s Word and His light meet in eternity, therefore, as believers forever bask in the light with Almighty God (Revelation 21-22.)

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Jottings – Are You Broken?

Usually when something is broken, its value declines or disappears altogether. Broken dishes, broken bottles, broken mirrors are generally scrapped. Even a crack in furniture or a tear in cloth greatly reduces its resale value.
But it isn’t that way in the spiritual realm. God puts a premium on broken things–especially on broken people. That is why we read such verses as: Psalm 34:18, Psalm 51:17, and James 4:6.

William MacDonald in True Discipleship p. 147. Amazing! God places great value on broken people. Are you broken? Am I? But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [2]

The opening sentences of the Bible are laden with meaning concerning God’s identity (see the previous post.) The first three verses in particular bring out aspects of the divine being that later Scripture develops in greater detail. As Romans 1:20 puts it: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

The 24th Psalm further asserts His creatorial ownership of planet earth, saying: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” His omnipotence, omniscience, and spiritual nature are all revealed in Genesis’ first paragraph.

The Divine Power & Wisdom: From Microbes To Supernovae

“God created” – what profundities are contained in those two words! The complexity of both the macroscopic and microscopic worlds is contained within it. Whether one peers at cells and the subatomic realm or at the seemingly endless galaxies of magnificent celestial bodies, the power and wisdom of the Almighty are prominently displayed.

One has only to look at their own body to consider the imaginative artistry and engineering brilliance of the divine mind. The interdependent respiratory, circulatory, neurological, digestive, endocrine and other systems, not to mention miles of nerves, arteries, veins, and various types of tissue, all point to a vastly clever designer.

As “the Prince of Expositors” Alexander MacLaren once expressed it: “Every man carries in his own body reasons enough for reverent gratitude.”

The diversity of topography, abundance of animal and plant life in different ecosystems, the ubiquitous beauty that abounds from tiny flowers to august mountains, from barrenly beauteous deserts to frigidly gorgeous glaciers all testify to the existence of a God who values loveliness and artisanship.

All of these wonders came at His verbal command. He spoke, and so He created.

Deus Superius Machina

This all-knowing and all-powerful Creator is spiritual, rather than material (Genesis 1:2; cf. John 4:24.) He is not a created being, nor is He an outgrowth of His world. He is not co-extensive with the universe but exceeds it as being entirely other – He is truly unique, or holy, as the Scriptures so often say (Isaiah 43:3.) Here we have the embryonic roots of the doctrine of the trinity; later revelation in the Bible reveals with greater clarity God’s triune being (e.g. Psalm 110:1; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 14:16.) Yet, as seen in verse 2, this immaterial Lord is intimately involved in the creation, maintenance, and destiny of His world.

Earth’s present form is a pale reflection of the pristine, unfallen glory of Genesis 1; nonetheless, the vestiges of that “very good” creation are still evident everywhere in the universe (Genesis 1:31.) As a classic hymn says: “Thy Almighty power and wisdom all creation’s works proclaim, Heaven and earth alike confess Thee, As the ever great I AM.” Thankfully, one day the Lord will supersede this creation with new heavens and a new earth, which will be liberated from the tyranny and debilitating effects of sin (Romans 8:18-30.)

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