Friday, September 11, 2015

The Desire of the Humble

“O Lord, You have heard THE DESIRE OF THE HUMBLE; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror” (Psalm 10:17-18 NAS).

Herein this verse of Scripture we see that the desire of the “self-loathing or depressed” soul (the meaning of the word “humble” as derived from the Hebrew word used here)—is heard by God; this seems to suggest that a soul not self-loathed or depressed will not be heard by God.  Does this mean that we are to walk about with our heads bowed low, depressed, deflated, and disgusted with ourselves?  Surprisingly—and especially to this deceived and saccharin generation of high self-esteemers—the answer is YES!!!—(at least until the Lord Himself becomes our shield and our glory and the lifter of our heads).

But really, it is not about self-esteem at all (whether low or high), because self is not the subject at hand; self misses the mark as soon as self becomes the object of consideration.  But also, humility is not about complete self-abnegation (in the ultimate sense); as stated earlier, it is about getting the mind and consideration off of self and minding and considering God and His purposes.  God sees our low estate and promises to exalt us in due time; but always, our focus is to be on Him and not ourselves.  Remember, only those who lose their souls gain them.  That is why faith is necessary; only with the eyes of faith can we look into tomorrow and see what we cannot realize today.  Indeed, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be” (1 John 3:2).

Also note from Psalm 10:17-18 that the innate nature of a terrorist is earthly; he is characterized as a “man...of the earth.”  He oppresses humankind by the very force of his fallen nature.  But what incredible power lies in the bosom of the humble soul!  The desire of the humble is heard by God because genuine humility is inherently truthful and prayerful.  One cannot be both humble and wrong at the same time; when I am weak, I am strong, declares the apostle.  When I am humble or meek, I inherit the earth (I displace this man of terror!—in me and in others).  Humility is prayerful and heard by the Almighty.  The desire of the humble is to overthrow the evil powers of oppression and fatherlessness.  Does that sound like something we desperately need today?  Well don’t lift yourself up to get it!  Rather press yourself down and fall at the Almighty’s feet.  This is the need of the hour.  This is why the movie “The War Room” resonates today.

But why humility?  Because only humility strips away all pretense and discloses the genuine motives of the heart, down to the bottom of the heart, down to the premise of the person.  And what is the desire of the humble?   Deliverance from sin and complete freedom from guilt (something only God through Jesus Christ the Savior can do).
This is the template, the perfect example of the proper attitude and the right action attached to that proper attitude; in other words, this is how we need to act: “And He (Jesus)...told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.”  But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’”  I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be HUMBLED, but he who HUMBLES himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).

I would suggest that the proper Christian attitude and behavior—no matter how mature or accomplished we get this side of heaven—is perpetually that of the tax collector; ALWAYS our heart cry should be, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!”  This fact never changes: “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in the way.  He leads the HUMBLE in justice, and He teaches the HUMBLE His way” (Psalm 25:8-9).  Since I know that I am to be judged by the judgment I dish out to others, I am inclined to show mercy always and to take no pleasure in the death of the wicked (just like my God and Savior).    
Finally, “Seek the Lord, all you HUMBLE of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek HUMILITY.  Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3).  And remember that “To this one I will look, to him who is HUMBLE and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).  Note how humility and contriteness (repentant spirit/heart) are coupled here; they are indeed closely related.
“Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, HUMBLE, and mounted on a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).  “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and HUMBLE in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).  “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He HUMBLED Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and HUMBLE in spirit” (1 Peter 3:8).

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Some Thoughts on the Lost Tribe of Dan

Though “The deep says, ‘It is not in me.’ And the sea says, ‘It is not with me,’” and “Man puts an end to darkness, and to the farthest limit he searches out the rock in gloom and deep shadow,” yet, the soul who truly comes to God finds that “Light arises in the darkness for the upright”; God is, indeed (and always), “gracious and compassionate and righteous,” a God who, though it is His glory to conceal the hidden things of darkness to the eyes of man, searches out sin until He finds none, a God who will not leave the guilty unpunished though he tarry in longsuffering love and mercy many years (Job 28:14, 3; Psalm 112:4).

And of all aspects of His character expressed in His people Israel, and differentiated by tribal clans according to specific traits, the tribe of Dan best exemplifies God the Judge and the consequential exposure of sin and idolatry in that trait capacity.  In the Christian, this righteousness trait is expressed in vigilance against sin in all its forms and capacities.  It is not just the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit AND fire.  It is the revolutionary spirit that spoke through Patrick Henry when he said, “Give me liberty or give me death!”  I suggest an update to this statement, an expression more suitable for this hour in our history: “Give me death that I might have liberty!”  Give me death to myself—and from that mold of sin I was born into and cannot break away from—and place me into the liberty of the sons of God. 

Only matured sons are those who ride on donkeys; they are those who have their flesh in subjection to the Holy Spirit.  Judges are kings in their spheres, and they predated kings in scripture.  Even the King of kings, Jesus Christ, rode a donkey at His coronation.  He came not to judge, but to save (though the decree of any king is law).  The kingdom of God which does not come with observation is about an internal law, a ruling disposition which is maintained in the fires of intimacy.  God is inside the Christian, the Consuming Fire God of all creation; revelation of that fact is the adherence of that subject to her king.  Thus the tribe of Dan represents a hidden (no mention of that tribe is made in the New Testament) rule; it is the spirit in man on fire with zeal for God’s government to be established in their own hearts and in all the land.  It is the cry in the night for purity! 

John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah and declared “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).  I see that the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning which washes away the filth of the daughters of Zion and bloodshed from Jerusalem (see Isaiah 4:4-5) is personified in the Dan spirit.  Moreover, a resurrection of righteousness prepares the way for His second coming, a coming in His people; thus deliverers (saviors)—those in the mold of the character of Dan—are sent as forerunners to warn others of the soon coming King who will destroy many with the sword out of His mouth and the brightness of His coming.  Get pure before it’s too late!  “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12).

As I mentioned earlier, judges are kings—and pertaining to our theme concerning the function of the spirit of Dan in this hour—I like what Spurgeon had to say about this verse of scripture: “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.”—Proverbs 25:2. He said,

“What is the business of kings? Why are they set up above their fellow-men? What is their honor? Why, it is the honor of kings to search out matters that concern the administration of justice, to bring prisoners before their bar, laying bare their crimes and convicting them of they are guilty. It is the glory of God to cover a matter, that matter being sin; but it is the honor of kings to search that matter out and bring the guilty one to justice. You know that we think less and less of our police if they are not able to discover criminals. It has sometimes happened that justice misses its mark. Perhaps there is an attempt made to get a certain important witness out of the way, or to suborn another, or to suppress some testimony that might be brought against the accused persons. It is never to the honor of kings when that is done. When for instance a murder has been committed and the criminal cannot be traced, it is not to the credit of the governing powers that it should be so; and though it must be so sometimes— for no human government can be perfect in its detective forces— yet it is not to the honor of “the powers that be.” It is to the honor of kings that they search matters out till they bring home the guilt to the proper individual. Nor is it to the honor of kings if they give their verdict and sentence at first sight according to prejudice. It is their honor to search out a matter—to hear both sides of the case. The magistrate who sits in the king’s name is bound to enquire thoroughly into the matter brought before him, and at last to adjudicate as justice demands. This is sometimes very difficult, but it is to the honor of kings and their representatives when they attempt it. Now to God such a thing as this is impossible. Nothing is concealed from him; the whole universe is but one great prison for those who offend against him and he can find them at any time that he pleases, and he can execute his just sentence upon them without a moment’s delay. He needs no witnesses, he need not summon this person or that who has seen a certain deed done, for the transgression has been committed in his own sight. His glory is that he covers the matter; and as it is the glory of God to cover the matter, it is also the honor of kings to search the matter out; that matter in each case being the breach of law. I am persuaded that this is the meaning of the text.”

In connection to Spurgeon’s take on the idea of searching out a matter is the idea of utter deliverance; the idea of searching out a matter has behind it the idea of light and enlightenment, and as Jesus Himself said, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come” (John 3:19).  Deliverance from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light is a deliverance from evil (that which is earthly and decaying) to good (that which is heavenly and improving).  Do not be fooled by the word “improving”—which might be thought of as adding to perfection; no, we partake of the divine nature, digesting into mortality that which is immortal (the final completion of which will be the redemption of our body). 

As mentioned earlier, the tribe of Dan is not mentioned once in the New Testament (a covenant based on better promises); it is, however, a prominent tribe in the Old Testament, and particularly in the days of the judges (when everyone did what was right in their own eyes).  Law—which is what the Old Testament based its promises on—marks this tribe; they are warranted by their hidden nature given to them by God—rather than overtly commissioned by man—to bring righteous order to chaotic thinking and behavior.  The serpent is Dan’s symbol, along with the scales of justice; the eagle is its banner, and north, its direction; blue is its color, and sapphire, its stone.

Since the Law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, Dan’s omission in the record of the New Testament, is understandable.  Lawgivers are unnecessary at the matured end of Christ formed inside His people.  They are, however, prominent whenever the law is slack or not being fulfilled (as it was by Christ, and ought to be in His maturing sons).  The idea that the law is only for the lawless ought to make judgment a thing of the past for His children, children that ought to be obedient children, but alas, in this darkening final hour of history, the lost tribe of Dan is activated again to restore righteous order, to reestablish Jesus Christ as the only sure and pure foundation of life.  Psalm 89:14 says that “Righteousness and justice” are the foundation or habitation of God’s throne.  The mercy and truth which goes before God’s face (attached to the end of that verse) are about the salvation elements used to prepare someone to face the King.  In the end, utter purity is required to see Him as He really is; Dan’s job is to utterly prophesy, to declare the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and thereby completely purify the bride of Christ.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How to Get Immediate Help from God

“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!” (Psalm 20:1 NASB).

“May the King answer us in the day we call” (Psalm 20:9).

The two verses of Scripture cited above from Psalm 20 are the first and last verses of that psalm respectively.  In between these two verses, king David asks that all your petitions be filled, that you be securely set upon high, and that God Himself help you from Zion and the sanctuary.  He further states the fact that the Lord saves His anointed and that God—presumably in relation to that fact—will answer you from “His holy heaven, with the saving strength of His right hand.”  Citing how others boast in the might of their war machinery, David, in stark contrast, cites how “we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.”  As a result, “they have bowed down and fallen”—and again in contrast—David and his people, “have risen and stood upright.”

David is decidedly not presumptuous here; he humbly implores or asks “May the Lord/King answer.”  When He does boast, he boasts in God’s name alone.  We are taught to boldly approach His throne for mercy and help in the time of need; bold, yes, but not with presumption and pride.  A humble boldness, based not on our strength, but on His.  We are forever in need of His life force to empower ours, but when He does empower us, it is with purpose.  To become like Him is that purpose.  But alas, we fail often.  We need His help and we need it fast; what do we do?

Because God is gracious and pities His people He often delivers us from troubles even we create.  Thank God He does!  He knows our frames; He knows we are but dust.  Nonetheless, as we mature in Christ, He requires more and more from us.  He requires that we become more and more like Jesus Christ, which primarily means to become more and more self-sacrificing.  This is perhaps best illustrated in the prerequisite groundwork prescribed by God Himself to bend His ear; those who would be genuinely enlightened and effectual in manifesting the Kingdom of God on earth are those who are in immediate and constant communication with God.

This “best illustration” is laid out in no uncertain terms in Isaiah.  “‘Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke?  “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?’” (Isaiah 58:6-7).


“Your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 58:8).




“You remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted” (Isaiah 58:9-10).


“Your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.  “And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail”  (Isaiah 58:10-11).

So, how do we get immediate help from God?  Simple!  Share your wealth with the downtrodden.  In practical terms, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and house the homeless.  Do!  Love in deed, not in word.  And stop blaming others and speaking gossip and nonsense.  Forgive others as Christ forgave you!

Monday, September 7, 2015

It's Time to Kiss the Son

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little” (Psalm 2:12 KJV).
“God...has indignation every day” (Psalm 7:11 NASB).

“A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; The Lord is avenging and wrathful” (Nahum 1:2).

Let’s make no mistake about it—God is angry every day.  Yes, He’s MORE than angry every day (He also rejoices and runs the gamut of many other emotions each day), but He’s at least angry every day—on some level.  “Why?”—you might ask.  Simple; because of disobedience.

One of the greatest revivals in our recorded history occurred when Jonathan Edwards (in 1741) preached a sermon titled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”  The sinners he spoke of in his sermon were patterned after the Israelites of old (those who saw His marvelous works but remained mysteriously unmoved and unchanged by them); Edwards likened them to Christians of his day who also remained unconverted in spite of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary of their sin-held positions.  These Israelites Edwards said “lived under the means of grace”—yes, Old Testament people lived under grace!  He also cited Deuteronomy 32:35—“Their foot shall slip in due time.”  And herein is the crux of my message.

Your foot can slip in the age of grace!  The God who undeniably loves His own people can—and often does—gets angry.  Yes, we are not appointed to wrath (at least that is His will for us); but that is contingent on us continuing in the love of God (walking in obedience).  The idea of the grace of God has been accentuated beyond the bounds of its biblical definition; though the grace of God in some ways cannot be overemphasized, in other ways it can.  Perhaps my point is best summarized by how it is juxtaposed beside truth in this verse of Scripture:  “Grace and truth have met together; justice and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:11 CJB).  Too often today subjects like “grace” are taught in a vacuum; teach it in context and concert with truth and watch it become limited in definition but expanded in meaning and import.
“This you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for BECAUSE OF THESE THINGS THE WRATH OF GOD COMES UPON THE SONS OF DISOBEDIENCE” (Ephesians 5:5-6).

I read some well-meaning Christian’s post this morning on Facebook; in it, this author claimed they were tired of all the prophetic “doom and gloom” messages being heralded out there in this “end time.”  They went on to perpetuate a sunnier outlook.  Though I know it is always well with those who obey the Lord and follow Him faithfully (in ultimate terms), the way to this ultimate high and sunny ground is more likely than not via a dark path through many “doom and gloom” valleys.  Additionally, Christians are but a scarlet thread running through falling cities and countries under judgment; we, in some ways, eat the judgment allotted our respective nations.  We share in her national sins.  But God always makes a way through His wrath for us.  And it often requires a devotion from us beyond our measure to accomplish it (without His divine strength); but we cannot fail if we remain faithful.

If not for reasons of our own disobedience (but perhaps in proxy intercession for others) we often find ourselves in uncomfortable and perplexing places (internally and externally); this pilgrim journey is fraught with dangerous obstacles and satanic schemes aimed to derail us.  Our only hope is in Him and His finished work on the cross.  It behooves us to always fear Him.  Indeed, “Do homage to the Son that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:12).

In reality, we are in a confluence of two streams of destiny, one leading to life everlasting, the other, to eternal damnation.  And everything hinges on what we do with Jesus Christ; either believe (utterly cling to and rely on Him) or not.  And the “not” here is a foregone conclusion derived not so much from action taken now as much as from a disposition already arrived at internally.  “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

Clearly the obedience spoken of here is about belief (or faith); to not believe God’s report about His Son (and the provision of life from the dead inherent therein) is to forfeit one’s own life.  The prerequisite proof that life is already dead and without hope without God’s intervening plan (of inserting Jesus Christ back into the stream of humankind) is abundantly clear.  “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).

In the end, perilous time will come (the Scriptures undeniably herald that fact); let our heart cry in harmony with the prophet: “Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).  “Since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.  For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 8-9).  Indeed, “The the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH’” (Romans 1:16-17).