Waiting: The Love of the Truth

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

Receive the love of the truth as you wait on God with great hope.

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.  The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of truth, that they might be saved.  (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10, NKJV)

The Apostle Paul is describing the great apostasy that will occur prior to our Lord’s return.  Satan will work through the Antichrist with deceitfulness to fool the world who do not receive the love of truth and are destined for destruction.  Deception versus truth is presented. 

With all unrighteous deceptionUnrighteous in the Greek is what is not conformable with justice, what ought not to be, that which is wrong.  Satan wants to impede the proper worship of God and disrupt the lives of man for their ruin because Satan stands in opposition to the truth.  In the Greek deception is deceit, delusion.  Spoken of anything which is deceptive and seducing.  Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44) and will use falsehood to seduce man away from the living God.  All informs us that Satan will use every dirty trick in the book to trip people up (consider reading C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters for an insider’s guide to Satan’s schemes). 

Among those who perish.  Only those who are not children of God will be deceived by the devil and his trickery.  Perish in the Greek is a strong word meaning to destroy or perish violently.  The end of those who do not receive the love of truth will be violent and will be eternally lost.

Because they did not receive the love of truth.  In the Greek to receive is to accept an offer deliberately and readily. To take to oneself what is presented or brought by another, to receive.  Those who perish gladly accept the lies of Satan over the truth of God – they make that choice.  Love in the Greek is agápē, love, affectionate regard, goodwill, benevolence. With reference to God’s love, it is God’s willful direction toward man.  It involves God doing what He knows is best for man and not necessarily what man desires.  God’s infinite love is being rejected by those who perish.   This love is of truth, because God and His love are truth. 

That they might be saved.  Those who perish reject the love of God in truth and fail to be saved.  In the end, it comes down to what a person does with the love of truth.  It can be received in grace or it can be rejected through receiving the lies of the enemy.

As you meditate upon this passage by waiting upon God ask Him to show you the love of truth.  Make sure you are seeking out truth, not the deceptive tricks of Satan.  Stand firm in your faith and give thanks to the Lord of all for His love, grace, and truth.

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Mystic Moments: Maturity Takes Time

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I have been pushing “embrace the process” to my family and friends this year.  What do I mean by that?  Simply put: the Christian path to maturity is a process, and it takes time, so embrace how it works out in your life.  Do not rush God; He is not in a hurry and His timing is perfect.  Submit to the will of God and let Him do the work in you.

Read the following from Andrew Murray concerning James 1:4 concerning our goal (Christian maturity) and our action plan (wait for the work to be completed by yielding to the Holy Spirit and His time schedule).

But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.  (James 1:4, HCSB)

Perfection (maturity) is a seed. The life, given in regeneration, is a perfect life.  Through ignorance and unbelief the soul may never get beyond knowing that it has life, and remain unconscious of what a wonderful, perfect life it has.

Perfection (maturity) is a seed.  It is a blessed hour when the soul wakens up to know this, and with a perfect heart yields itself to appropriate all that God has given.  The perfection of the perfect heart, a heart wholly yielded to seek God with all its strength, is again a seed, with infinite power of growth and increase.

Perfection (maturity) is a growth.  As the Christian awakens to the consciousness of what God asks and gives, and maintains the vow of a wholehearted surrender, he grows in his sense of need and his trust in the promise of a Divine life and strength, until all the promises of grace come to a focus in the one assurance. “The God of all grace will Himself perfect you”; that faith which was the fruit of previous growth, becomes the new seed of further growth.  Perfection now develops into something riper and mellower.  The overshadowing Presence of Him who perfects, rests continually on the spirit, and the whole character bears the impression of heavenliness and fellowship with the Unseen.  The soul makes way for God, and gives Him time to do His work; the God of Peace, perfecting in every good thing, gets entire possession.  The soul rests in the rest of God.

This is not the work of a day.  Perfection (maturity) is growth.

Man is the creature of time, and is under the law of development.  In the kingdom of heaven it is as in nature, from the seed first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.  There is nothing at times that appears more mysterious to the believer than the slowness of God.

True faith recognizes the need of time, and rests in God. – Andrew Murray

Poor in Spirit: Jonah 3:5-10

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The prophet Jonah was sent to Israel’s enemy from the north: Nineveh.  Jonah preached a message of judgment against the city.  The Lord God gave the time period of forty days until judgment would come upon the city with no call of repentance.  The response of the pagan people, who did not know the God of the Israelites, shows how they became poor in spirit because they took it upon themselves to change their character:

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.  When the word came to the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.  He issued a proclamation and it said,

“In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing.  Do not let them eat or drink water.  But both man and beast be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence is in his hands.  Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we may not perish?” 

When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them.  And He did not do it.  (NASB)

The steps the people of Nineveh took to become poor in spirit are as follows: 

The people of Nineveh believed in GodIt all begins with believing God’s Word and acting out in faith to the Word of the Most High.  Our text for this whole study in becoming poor in spirit is Matthew 5:3.  Do we believe Jesus’ word to his disciples?  Are you His disciple?  Then believe His Word to us.

A fast was called.  Not only did the people hear from God and believed, they wanted to draw nearer and learn what they needed to do to hold off the coming judgment declared by the prophet of God.  We have learned that prayer and fasting can help in the development of the character we are after: being poor in spirit.

They mourned over their sin.  This is an overlap into the next Beatitude (Matthew 5:4), but the Beatitudes often work together in the development of Christian character.  Mourning over sin is essential in character development.  The nation mourned because of their sin in the attitude of being poor in spirit.

God validated their character by holding off judgment.  Because the people of Nineveh changed their character and became poor in spirit the judgment that was pronounced against them by the prophet of God was not brought upon them.

Remember these four steps as essential for character development and refer to them often in your walk in becoming poor in spirit.

Teleios: The Will of God is Teleios

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Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in your prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete (teleios is translated “perfect and complete” here) in all the will of God.   Colossians 4:12  

We find in this verse that Ephaphras is praying for the spiritual maturity of believers.  Note how he is praying for them: laboring fervently.  This is some intense prayer.  It seems to be very important to disciple of Paul that believers mature.  To have the heart like this is to have the heart of God for we are told in this verse that this is the will of God.  This should be a main objective of ministry.  If it is important enough to be recorded in a letter by Paul; that it is important enough for a disciple of Paul to pray with such intensity; and if it is the will of God, should not be a major emphasis of the Church?  Do you labor in prayer fervently for the spiritual maturity of others to be developed?  If not the mandate of Scripture is there.  Get serious about your own growth.  Then get serious about the growth of others.

Poor in Spirit: Daniel 10:2-3 and 12

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In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled…Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.”  (NKJV)

The prayer life and the character of Daniel comes shining through in these verses.  Daniel prayed and fasted three weeks in order to understand a vision given to him.  Let us examine the lessons brought forth from this passage of Scripture.

I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth.  Daniel was a man of prayer.  Prayer to the Living God takes our burdens and places them upon the Burden Bearer, the true God of our hearts.  When we transfer our burdens to God we are transferring the kingdom from ourselves to the kingdom of heaven.  We saw that earlier when the first dream of Nebuchadnezzar occurred: 

Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, about the matter, so that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends would not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.  Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision.  Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven.  (Daniel 2:17-19, NASB) 

We also see Daniel’s prayer life in the story that leads to Daniel in the lion’s den:

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.  And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days(Daniel 6:10, NKJV, emphasis added) 

In addition to prayer Daniel takes part in a fast.  This is not a complete fast from food and drink, rather a fast of pleasant food, the food he enjoyed eating.  It would be like me giving up pizza and fast-food for three weeks to draw closer to the Lord.  Thus Daniel’s character was shaped by his prayer life and fasting transforming him into a man who was poor in spirit.  Our lives too can be transformed when we practice prayer and fasting when directed by God.

Whenever you fast…But when you fast…  (Matthew 6:16-17, HCSB) 

Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it (a demon) out?”  (Jesus replied) “However, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”  (Matthew 17:19 and 21, HCSB)

From the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard.  We are told that the Lord heard his prayer from the very onset of the prayer and fasting.  God did not answer the prayer because Daniel prayed and fasted, but because he was a man poor in spirit as the passage says he humbled himself.  When a man is poor in spirit the communication lines remain open between him and the loving Father.

Schedule into your time the disciplines of fasting and prayer, directed by the Holy Spirit, and do some character transformation in your life.  You will be glad that you have.

Waiting: Know the Grace of God

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

We know the grace of God in truth works in us as we wait on Him with great hope.

Which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.  (Colossians 1:6, NKJV)

We have previously touched on this verse when meditating upon Colossians 1:6.  Let us now consider this Scripture specifically as to working in us by the grace of God.  By the grace of God we are all born anew to the Spirit.  But we tend to forget it is grace by which we continue to live in the Spirit.  We should meditate upon the wonderful word grace (Charis in the Greek) which in this passage is applied in truth.  Charis according to R.C. Trench, “…is first of all that property in a thing which causes it to give joy to the hearers or beholders of it…and then, seeing that to a Greek there was nothing so joy-inspiring as grace or beauty, it implied the presence of this…”  Grace in the classical Greek dealt with the beauty or quality of a thing.  The word took on a religious use by the Christian writers of the first century.  Trench continues:

“Charis implied ever a favor freely done, without the claim or expectation of return – the word being thus predisposed to receive its new emphasis, its religious, I may say its dogmatic, significance; to set forth the entire and absolute freeness of the lovingkindness of God to men…St, Paul sets charis and erga (works) over against one another in directest antithesis, showing that they mutually exclude one another, it being of the essence of whatever is owed to charis that it is unearned and unmerited…”

God’s grace is His beautiful unmerited favor for both salvation and for discipleship.  The

Truth we have received through waiting upon God is His glorious gift to us.  We do not earn it by waiting, but the Father in His goodness bestows it upon us because we are His children and He wants to supply us with the empowerment for living lives in the character of His Son.

The amazing fact this passage before us tells us is grace is heard and can be known through the gospel of truth.  Which has come to you is the gospel which the Colossians were first taught by Epaphras to them.  As it has also in the entire world, and is bringing forth fruit shows us the gospel divinely reproduces itself, producing great fruit.  As it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.  The fruitfulness of the gospel of truth was producing fruit in the Colossians from day one; first by hearing of the grace of God and then by knowing it.  Knew in the Greek is to know fully; as an inceptive verb, to come to know, to gain or receive full knowledge of, become fully acquainted with.

Grace, the gift of God, can be known in its fullness as we wait upon the Giver of Grace through the gospel of truth.    

The Plow: What Jesus Commanded Part 7

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All Scripture

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 

The words and commands of Jesus are simply all Scripture.  This can be concluded from what we have read to this point.  All means every part of Scripture: every verse is inspired (pasa graphḗ); each passage as a unit is inspired.  The Old Testament is the words of Jesus and the New Testament is the words of Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God; literally the written and living Word is God-breathed.  God was actively involved in transferring His message to us through the pages of the Bible – all of it.  The true Author of each and every book of the Bible is God Himself: The Bible contains the words and commands of Christ to us His soldiers.  We will break down this passage in more detail in a later blog.  But for now, recognize when we learn when we teach, we teach the whole Bible from cover to cover as the commands of Jesus Christ.  Be a student of the whole Word of God.  Then teach others as God gives opportunity in your part of The Revolution.

Poor in Spirit: Daniel 5:22-28, 30

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Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, even though you knew all this, but you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines have been drinking wine from them; and you have praised gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand.  But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.  Then the hand was sent from Him and this inscription was written out.  Now this is the inscription that was written out: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.  This is the interpretation of the message: MENE – God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to.  TEKEL – you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.  PERES – your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians…That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.  (NASB)

In contrast to Nebuchadnezzar, his grandson Belshazzar did not learn from the event that changed Nebuchadnezzar into a man poor in spirit.  Belshazzar was a prideful king and his actions speak volumes to his pride.  Here is a lesson of what being poor in spirit is not.

Yet you, his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart.  What God desired in Belshazzar He desires in all of us: a humbled heart.  Thus, the Lord desires all of us to be poor in spirit.  Belshazzar never took that step towards God because he was consumed with self.

But you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven.  This is a good definition of pride: lifting the self to prominence against the Lord God of heaven.  Belshazzar fell to the sin of pride and refused to become poor in spirit.

They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you… have been drinking wine from them.  Another thing pride does is desensitize one to the holy things of God.  Belshazzar did not recognize the temple articles as holy and to be separate for God’s use only.

And you have praised gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which do not see, hear or understand.  With pride reigning in the heart of man the Lord God is no longer on the throne and has been replaced by the self.  These objects were not gods because they are just representations of what the self is projecting.  Idols are just images of the god of self.  Self is the god on the throne of the heart of the man living in the sin of pride.

But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and all your ways, you have not glorified.  As we have continually seen we see once again: The Lord desires the glory for Himself.  When man steals the glory from Him it is done because of the sin of pride.

… God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it…You have been weighed on the scales, and found deficient…Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians…That same night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain.  Judgment day awaits the man who lives in pride.  Humble yourself before God your Maker and become poor in spirit.

Clearly at this point you recognize that there is a daily choice to be made as to who is your god.  There are only really two choices: the god of self or the God of Heaven.  Purpose in prayer right now: to develop the daily habit of declaring that your god is the One True God as presented in the pages of Scripture, not created in the image of self.

Mystic Moments: Let Us Press On Because the Road to Spiritual Maturity is a Road of Suffering

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But solid food belongs to those who are full age (spiritually mature), that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles (the baby stuff) of Christ, let us go on to perfection (Hebrews 5:14; 6:1).

It is the desire after holiness, the tender conscience that longs above everything to discern good and evil, the heart seeks only, and always, and fully to know and do the will of God, that marks the perfect (spiritually mature).  The man who has set his heart upon being holy, and in the pursuit after the highest moral and spiritual perfection exercises his senses in everything to discern good and evil, is counted the perfect (spiritually mature) man.  We read of God’s perfecting Christ through suffering.  Perfection is that perfect union with God’s will, that blessed meekness and surrender to God’s will, which the Father wrought in Christ through His suffering.  We read of Christ’s learning obedience, and so being made perfect.  This is the true maturity or perfection, the true wisdom among the perfect, the knowing and doing of God’s will. – Andrew Murray

Waiting: Gird Your Waist with Truth

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Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  (Psalm 25:4-5, NKJV, emphasis added)

Gird your waist with truth and do this through waiting on God with great hope.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having all, to standStand therefore, having girded your waist with truth  (Ephesians 6:11, 13-14, NKJV, emphasis added)

If you have not noticed, we are in the midst of a battle.  It is a spiritual battle engaged against spiritual beings (Ephesians 6:12).  Paul instructs us in the putting on the armor, piece by piece, so that we can stand firm in our walk and battle the Enemy of our souls.  Two things stand out to me in this passage (sorry for the pun): standing and the belt of truth (girded your waist) on which the rest of the armor would fall out of place or without the soldier would fall on his face.  Keep these important phrases in prayer as you meditate on this passage through waiting on God.

Put on the whole armor of God/Therefore take up the whole armor of GodPut on in the Greek is to envelop in, to hide in, and to clothe with and the whole armor is literally all the protective gear and weapons.  In classical Greek it would mean all the armor of a heavy-armed soldier.  Every piece of the armor is to be put on, none are to be neglected.  Of God in the Greek shows the source of the armor is from God Himself and is not earthly armor.  The armor is both divine and complete and to go without any piece is to leave an opening for the enemy to bring you down to defeat.  In Paul’s day the image would be of a Roman soldier, the military power of the world in that day.  Kenneth Wuest in Ephesians and Colossians in the Greek New Testament adds the following concerning the taking up the whole armor:

“The verb is aorist imperative, which construction issues a command given with military snap and curtness, a command to be obeyed at once and once for all.  Thus, the Christian is to take up and put on all the armor of God as a once-for-all act and keep that armor on during the entire course of his life, not relaxing the discipline necessary for the constant use of such protection.  The historian Gibbon, relates how the relaxation of discipline and the disuse of exercise rendered soldiers less willing and less able to support the fatigue of service.”

That you will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  In the Greek stand is to hold fast against the enemy, or to hold your ground.  Battle is about position, holding, and taking land.  The Christian soldier should not be in retreat, but here it is emphasized to holding ground.  Wiles in the Greek are cunning arts, deceit, craft, and trickery.  Wiles are the strategy of the devil.  God knows the strategy of the devil and has equipped us to hold the ground gained in developing Christian character and not being defeated by the enemy.

That you may be able to withstand in the evil dayWithstand in the Greek is to stand against, resist, oppose.  To withstand used here, is to stand against the devil and not be defeated.  The evil day is in reference to a serious attack from the enemy which will surely come upon every disciple in life.  It will come, but God has equipped us with His armor so we will not be defeated.  

And having all, to stand.  Understand as the whole armor of God is put on there is nothing protecting the back of the soldier.  Because there is no protection of the vital organs behind him the importance of standing firm and not retreating for the soldier is paramount.  Retreat would open up the vital organs to the enemy.  In this battle the goal is not to be defeated, to hold our ground.  We are not called to be battling Satan to take ground, but to hold the ground already given to us by God and not be defeated.  Stand firm. 

Stand therefore having girded your waist with truth.  We start now with the armor to be put on and the command is first to stand.  We are not running into battle and we are not retreating from it.  The belt is the first thing to put on because it holds the garments up so the soldier does not trip on them.  With the garments girded the soldier has the ability to move within the military lines being used by his commander.  The belt was the essential piece of equipment for without it the soldier could not put on his breastplate, put on his sword, or move about unencumbered.  The Christian’s responsibility is to gird himself with truth.  The Truth we have been led to is the truth we put on.  Truthfulness is then the essential character trait of the disciple in his relation to God, fellow believers, and the world around him.  We are led to truth through waiting and we apply the truth to our lives through submission, in all honesty and truthfulness, to the Spirit of truth.