A Command We Can’t Fully Do

Bible cloudyWe know that we must do everything the Bible commands.
Some commands are challenging to do—
love your enemy; esteem others better than yourself.

But, there’s a command we can’t fully do.
We want to, oh, how we want to!
But we can’t fully fulfill it.

The command I’m talking about David wrote, a man after God’s own heart:

“Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name”—Psa. 29:2

We can try to give God glory every which way we can.  But even for the legendary giant killer, it’s like slinging a pebble against The Rock.

We cannot possibly give God the glory DUE  His name.

OK, so how can we give God some of the glory due His name?

♥   Read the Psalms!   Since summer I’m in the habit of reading a Psalm or more early each day.  This is double effective if you read this at the start of your morning prayer.  David is credited with writing more than 100 of the 150 Psalms, and reading such words will help us speak more gloriously to God.  Oh, we must be ourselves, but the Psalms can help us be better—and more eloquent—selves.

“Holiness adorns your house”—Psa. 93:5.  Only with God’s help can we give Him some of the glory due His name for His holiness when Isa. 64:6 says all our righteousness is “like filthy rags.”

With the Holy Days coming in a little over a week, it’s a good time to read the Egyptian Hallel (Praise) Psalms (Psa. 113-118).  They’re called Egyptian because the Jews use them in commemorating deliverance from Egypt.   For the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16), He is delivering us from sin!

In Jesus’ last Passover with His disciples, they ended with a song.  Tradition says that song (Matt. 26:30) was probably Psalm 118.

As we approach this Holy Day season, these five Great Hallel Psalms can help us give God some of the glory due His name.

Psa. 29:9 says:  “And in His temple everyone says, ‘Glory!’

♥   Visualize God in His glory on His heavenly throne

throneBefore praying, I find it very helpful to first visualize the glorious God on His throne Who will be listening to me.  This helps me look up past the walls and our cat Josie purring for my attention.

I recommend reading Rev. 4:2-11 in the Living Bible for the most exciting description.  As Shannon Wexelberg sings in “Highest Praise,” [I recommend you go listen on YouTube before continuing] “We will join the host of heaven to proclaim!”

As Psa. 57:5 exults:  “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.”   God’s thoughts  and ways are higher than ours! (Is. 55:8-9).

For the size of the universe the latest estimate is two to three trillion galaxies.  A little leeway there!  Yet the Great God knows every star by name.  We’re challenged just to name our kids!

Treat yourself to the video [http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/man-behind-behind-viral-universe-explainer-cosmic-eye-video-is-a-perth-scientist-20160417-go8blc.html] that zooms from a smiling woman named Louise Mackay in a grassy park out to the ends of the universe 10 billion light years and then back to her—and then inside her eye to the universe of quarks a femtometer across there!  How small is that?  How much men understand women?  That’s one quadrillionth of a meter.  Oh.  I see.

With such miraculous eyes, do we?

♥   Creation shouts to the glory of its Creator

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made … so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).  Verse 21 adds that if we  don’t glorify God and give Him thanks, we have become “futile in our thoughts” with foolish hearts “darkened.”

Many Facebook posts spotlight an amazing rollercoaster, sunset, flower or animal.  Nobody argues that Ferrari World in the United Arab Emirates clocking 149 mph had no creator/designer.   The riders are too busy screaming!  And the cat videos, besides amusing our outnumbered life, testify to God’s amazing creativity!

With these three ways, let us give God some of the glory due His name.  As Shannon sings so powerfully, “let your praise arise!”

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Are There Leeks in Our Thinking?

Do golden calves just appear around us?

Is our Complaint Department such a busy place
that we need some full-time help?

“Now all these things happened to them as examples,
and they were written for our admonition,
upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11)

Earlier in this chapter Paul explained that he was talking about us needing to learn from Israel’s wandering 40 years in the wilderness.

Red SeaPassing through the Red Sea pictured baptism.  God heaped the waters up on both sides higher than their heads, and they didn’t know how blessed they were that total immersion wasn’t required of them!  To picture baptism, perhaps God didn’t even allow sprinkles on them.

So with plagues and parting, God freed Israel from Egypt, but the real challenge was removing Egypt from Israel.  Egypt symbolizes sin, and wouldn’t you know it that though God forgives us our past sin when  we repent of it and sincerely desire to exit from it, the real challenge is changing our minds to not only choose to reject sin in the future but, harder yet, not even desire it.

On the other shore all Israel could do was keep moaning “We want to go back to Egypt”—where they had been whipped and beaten as slave  laborers!  What about us if we fantasize about going back to our old life?   It really wasn’t all leeks, onions and garlic—except that it probably smelled to high heaven!  May God help us plug any leeks in our thinking.   Overcome old habits that hold us back.  “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear” (George Addair).

“For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries … they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation” (1 Pet. 4:3-4).

Meekest man got careless

Moses strike rockEven Moses, called the meekest man on earth (Num. 12:3), had to die before arriving in the Promised Land because he became so overwhelmed and discouraged by the complaining crowd that he got careless in following God’s instruction to speak to the rock.  “Last time I struck it, so let’s do it twice for good measure!”

Yet the reason God said Moses struck out was because he did not hallow him in the eyes of the people when he cried “Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10).  Moses called the people “rebels” when it was especially true of him and Aaron!  Most of the time someone who accuses others of something is guilty of the same.

The Rock who led them (1 Cor. 10:4) showed His unmatched mercy—Despite Moses’ rebellion He still made water flow  out for the thirsty murmuring mob.  He backed up His leader.  Paul cautioned Christians not to tempt Christ as they did (1 Cor. 10:9).

Maybe Moses and Aaron lapsed into thinking they could be a little careless because they were God’s exalted leaders.  God holds His leaders and teachers more accountable (James 3:1).

golden calfIsrael became our examples so that “we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted” (verse 6).  Paul called their orgy with the golden calf, which Aaron said just suddenly appeared, an example of not just sexual immorality but also idolatry.  An idol is anything we put before God in thought, time, priority or money.  With God’s help we have a lot to smash in our life!

Paul decries their complaining.  They thought they were

Just criticizing Moses

braggingbut God said it was against Him!  Jude warns “dreamers” who “reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.”  Michael the archangel knew better than to bring a “reviling accusation” against even Satan.  “But these speak evil of whatever they do not know” (Jude 8-10).  What would paying attention to Jude’s instruction do to social media and our news!

Several times they didn’t start complaining until after three days with no food or water (Ex. 15:22, Num. 10:33).   Their breaking point was three days.  Maybe we can’t be so quick to judge if we have never gone without food or water for over a day and that was because we chose to fast.  We aren’t trudging in a hot, dry wilderness.  After hiking just one mile in our beautiful spring weather, I’m famished and thirsty!

You’d think the book of Numbers  is about counting how many times Israel was complaining.   Their minds were too much on onions to appreciate all the orchids God was offering.

God said Israel tested Him one too many times when they did it the tenth time (Num. 14:22).  Ten is the number of judgment (10 Commandments, 10 wise and foolish virgins).  It’s easy to google for  the scriptures of the 10 incidents of accusing, murmuring, complaining, committing idolatry, not believing and not obeying.  Would our total shoot right past that into being worthy of God needing to forgive 70 times seven?

May God help us—spiritual Israel (Gal. 6:16)—to learn these same lessons on our way to the Promised Land.  “We must  give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away … how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:1,3).

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The Way Ahead

New Testament Christians lived “the Way” (Acts 9:2).
If we are, what would we be doing in the next few weeks ahead?

magnifying glassExamine ourselvesWhile Christians examine themselves all year round, the main time to do this is in the weeks before the spring Holy Days.  We do this, preferably accompanied by some fasting, to evaluate whether we are “in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5) and ready to “eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:28).

This is not a fearsome act.  Christians rejoice that the Father is working with us as sons and daughters and preparing us for future service beyond anything eye has seen or ear heard.  The spring Holy Days begin God’s revelation of how He will accomplish this.

new yearHappy New Year—God says the first day of the new year for 2017 is Tuesday, March 28 (Ex. 12:2).  That’s good enough for me.  On God’s calendar it’s Nisan 1.  And I’m guessing March 28 is going to be a glorious day to enjoy the ride!

Instead of the dead of winter, creation is springing to action and ready to party!    It’s  an atmosphere of greening and growing.  Though this day is not a holy day, it means the glorious spring Holy Days are only two weeks away!  And this 66-year-old is happy we don’t have to stay up until midnight because God’s days begin at sunset.

“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:  ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: ‘Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.  That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way’”—Minnie Louise Haskins, broadcast by King George VI in 1939 at the beginning of World War II.

spring cleaningSpring CleaningMany think we do this because our homes have gotten so dusty and unkempt while being holed up all winter.  Funny, that rationale never motivated me to clean in the summer, fall and winter!

Most sources trace spring cleaning back to the “Jews removing leaven from their homes for the Passover.”  Actually, this was the 12 tribes of Israel of which Judah was only one tribe.  The people in Exodus 12 were all Israel  and they removed the leaven for a “feast by an everlasting ordinance,” which we as spiritual Israel (Gal. 6:16) continue to do.

Some theorize spring cleaning dates back to the Iranian Norouz, the Persian new year, which falls on the first day of spring.   Iranians practice “khooneh tekouni” which literally means “shaking the house.”

This Iranian connection may be significant because historians know many Israelites dispersed through Parthia.  When you read about Parthia, you are reading about some lost tribes of Israel.  That’s why nobody teaches anything about Parthia because the general rule is that truth gets suppressed and somebody wants the lost to stay that way.  The Parthian Empire (247 BC – 224 AD) was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran

So it’s spring and soon I’ll be cleaning out drawers, vacuuming out the car, and steam cleaning floors.  But I’m not spring cleaning.  I’m removing leaven, representing sin, and need to finish by sundown Monday,  April 10 when the First Day of Unleavened Bread starts.   Removing the physical teaches insightful lessons about removing the spiritual that we find as we examine ourselves.

Paul taught “let us keep the Feast” (1 Cor. 5:7-8).   He seems to have written this letter—to Gentile Christians—near the time of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.  He said the Corinthians were physically unleavened, but he corrected them about many problems caused by divisions and tolerating sin.  We can be truly unleavened—with crumbs out but, more importantly, with sin forgiven at Passover and Christ the Bread of Life creating new men and women of “sincerity and truth” out of us.

Most people won’t learn about doing these special ways until after Christ returns to this earth and  His ways cover the earth. If the Master Timer has called you to be one of the “few  who find” the way ahead (Matt. 7:14), thank Him by responding to so great an opportunity and a responsibility.

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What’s the Name of the Church of God?

geese flyingInternet sites such as Wikipedia list
more than 33,000 names of Christian churches.

Which one of these vastly different names and beliefs
is the one Jesus is building?

The only acceptable place to search for the name of the Church of God is in His Bible.

There is “one body … one Spirit … one hope … one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:4, New International Version)—and one Church.  God prizes unity.  So what does the Bible give as the name of the Church of God?

Church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38)

tabernacleThat was the name of Israel when God took them out of Egypt and they wandered for 40 years.  Alas, people have been wondering what the name of the Church of God is for roughly 6,000 years!

Today the Church helps us come out of spiritual Egypt as we wander in the spiritual wilderness, knowing we must come out of her (Rev. 18:4).

In the end times the Church is going to flee to a place of safety in the wilderness for 3-1/2 years (Rev. 12:6).  But after Jesus Christ returns and sets up His millennial reign on the earth, His Church would no longer be in spiritual wilderness.  So the Bible must have a more fitting name.

Church of the Firstborn (Heb. 12:23)

helping handsGod will highly honor the firstborn with a double portion.  But what about the sons and daughters of God who will be born after the first resurrection?  That name wouldn’t cover them.  And besides, shouldn’t the name of the Church of God honor not the humans but the Great God who makes it all possible!

Church of Christ

Jesus promised “I will build My Church” (Matt. 16:18).   So now we’re onto what surely looks  like a good possibility!  Jesus will always be the head of His Church (Col. 1:18).  The Church is His body—obviously not a physical one but a spiritual one.

Let’s look closer.  Jesus said He came to reveal the Father (John 17:25-26).  He said the Father is greater than Him (John 14:28).  He said He could only say and do what the Father wills.  He always gave the Father the glory.

So while Church of Christ would be a pretty good name, Jesus said there is a “greater” name.

Church of God

 Ephesians 3:14-15 makes it plain:  “… the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (New International Version).  The whole family is named after God the Father.  Named what?  The Church of God!

And 12 times in the New  Testament the Church of God is called just that, sometimes accompanied with the location such as the Church of God in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2).

This is obviously the perfect name of the Church for all eternity.  The perfect name to include God the Father.  The perfect name to include Jesus Christ.  The perfect name to include all sons and daughters to come who will be added to the what?

kingdom comeThe Family of God.  To be in the Kingdom of God.  All Gods in the Church, Family and Kingdom.

Oh, the simplicity of Christ (2 Cor. 11:3):  The Bible names things what they are.

Where your very question—what is the name of the Church of God?—gives the answer!

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From Beam to Gleam

beamWhy is it so easy to spot motes in others
but we can’t see the beam in our own eye (Matt. 7:3)?
i-eyeYou’d think it’d be so obvious to us,
with it protruding right out of our eye.

But this is what the carnal “I” sees:

Our normal self, pretty much what we expect,
so alas, we go right on and deceive ourselves (Jer. 17:9).

Paul said it’s time to examine ourselves.  He isn’t talking about selfies so put away the camera.  And he isn’t talking about looking ourselves over for suspicious lumps or blemishes, so back away from the mirror.

Paul said to examine ourselves, whether we “are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5).
It’s only five weeks until the spring Holy Days, and Paul said to examine ourselves so that we will be ready to “eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:28).

“O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23).  So examine ourselves?  In a real sense we can’t really do it.

In 47 years trying to live the Bible, I’ve encountered lots of messages about how to examine yourself.  Let me share with you the simple, practical solution I heard in a perceptive sermon years ago.  The secret is to

Ask God to show you the one thing He wants you to change

Ask Him to make it plain to you what he dislikes the most about how you are thinking or acting—the one thing that is most keeping you from being the new man or woman He wants you to be.  That makes you a character all right!  But not with the character God wants!

Lo and behold, Jeremiah says the same solution:  Right after he says you probably can’t effectively examine yourself, he says “O Lord, correct me, but with justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing” (verse 24).

Yes, Jeremiah concurs, ask God for His merciful correction.  The Master Timer never demands more of us than we are able (1 Cor. 10:13).

We see a  relevant parallel in Deut. 7:22 where God sent hornets to drive out the nations standing in Israel’s way, but He did it little by little lest they be overrun with wild animals.  God doesn’t want to sting us into being overwhelmed and despairing.  He wants us to humbly submit to a loving Father’s correction—not run away from home!  We are family!  With the eternal Kingdom fast approaching!

Your special effort to examine yourself will work even more powerfully if you do this while fasting.  God will see you are really serious about it because going without food and water will make you  more serious about it.  You will see your utter dependence on God’s mercy!

The Bible says some things come out only by fasting, and maybe a beam qualifies!

How your answer might come:

Bible cloudyBible Study … prayer … sermons … fellowshipping with iron sharpening iron.  We must be on spiritual alert for God’s answer!

But from my experience the most likely way is if you have a wonderful godly mate, like I do, she might be the one God uses to show you the way.  Why your mate? Because they are with you the most. They see you at your unpretentious worst. While striving to be heirs together of the grace of life (1 Pet. 3:7), they see you with your hair down.

Humbly accept & act

humilityHopefully, when God’s correction comes to our attention, we will humbly accept it, thank God for it, and seek His help to overcome it. The minister said the one thing God showed him was that he needed to be more humble. I think that could always be the one we all need.   And thankfulness.

We should be grateful that the Master Potter wants to shape us into a worthy vessel.  That the Master Blacksmith wants to forge us into pure steel with impurities gone so that He can see His own image in us. And that the Master Pruner knows just where and how much to lop and snip so we can really bear fruit for Him and His people.

Is this a fearful exercise?   If we have a loving relationship with our Father and Brother, it’s an exciting one!   God  is working with us!  He’s preparing us for His Kingdom!

So in the next five weeks, I urge you to join me in fasting for God’s favor in examining ourselves.

A parent loves to see a responsive child.  If we yield to God in removing the beam in our eye, surely our Father will have a gleam in His!

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