Sweet Hour of Prayer

Wednesday, February 14             

Time is precious.  We need to use it wisely and carefully.  We all waste time, but prayer time is never wasted time.  When I think about praying, other things often come to mind that need to be done—and that would be more enjoyable.  When I think about it, I realize that Satan is at work.  If he can eliminate or minimize my prayer time, he will do it.  Prayer is incredibly important.  Bringing God into any situation is never a mistake.  When we opt to do something without prayer, we’re really saying that we don’t need God.  That’s pretty serious.  Well, it’s not pretty.  It IS serious.  When we come to the place where we really know that we can do nothing without God, it will make it easier to spend time in prayer.  Believe it or not, there’s something even more important than God’s taking care of our “situations.”  He wants to be a friend.  I really like John 14:14-15 where Jesus called his disciples his friends.  If and when we become a friend of God, it will no longer be a chore to spend time in prayer.  I’m not sure I’m there yet, but I’m getting closer.  That will really frustrate Satan!  And I will be able to identify with the writer of the hymn “Sweet Hour of Prayer.”

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Tuesday, February 13                           

Most of us understand the term “omniscient” and can probably define it.  But that doesn’t mean that we really grasp it.  I don’t claim that I fully understand it (probably never will), but after meditating on it the other day, I have a new appreciation for it.  Mt. 10:29.  “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”  How many sparrows do you suppose there are in our world?  Obviously, the number will change from one second to the next.  God knows about each one.  Now think of the immense number of other birds there are in the world, again with the numbers changing all the time.  Now enlarge that to all other animals, even microbes.  Multiply that by all the inanimate things in our world and add the vast universe with creations far bigger than planet earth.  Does this boggle your mind?  But there’s something more staggering than that.  God loves and cares for them all.  Did you notice that the above verse says that a sparrow will not fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father?  So he not only knows and cares, he controls everything about them, including their life span.  The follow up verse to the above verse says that he knows the number of hairs on your head.  And you know that changes a lot, especially when we get older.  And how many people are there on earth?  The implication again is that he cares about us.  After all this, let me challenge you.  Name one thing that God doesn’t know.  When you give up on that, realize that his love for his creation is just as great as his knowledge.  And then take note that he has picked out man to pour out his love on.  What does that do for you?

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Worms, Fish, and Rocks

Monday, February 12               

Worms, along with all other animal life, were created by God, and along with all other life, they have a purpose.  All of creation, whether living or inanimate, are subject to their Creator.  God told a plant to grow up to shelter Jonah from the sun.  He then called on a bug to devour the plant.  When King Herod imprisoned Peter, who was miraculously freed by an angel, God took care of  Herod by striking him down and calling on worms to feast on him (Acts 12).  When the crowd of followers on Palm Sunday praised Jesus and were rebuked by some Pharisees, Jesus said that if they didn’t, the rocks would cry out (Lk. 19:37-40).  The Bible is loaded with other examples of nature being obedient to God.  I doubt if they knew anything about Theology 101.  They had no concept of sin or moral choices, no reason to rebel, no need to be redeemed.   They could do nothing other than to obey their creator.  Of course they don’t have eternal souls, either, and they do not look forward to an eternal bliss.  When I think about this I am struck by the fact that man, God’s highest form of creation has been invaded by the sin nature and doomed to eternal death.  Fallen angels, including Satan, face the same judgment, but there’s one difference.  God chose to redeem man.  For whatever reason, we are special in God’s eyes.  What do you think your response should be?

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The Man Upstairs

Sunday, February 11                    

We hear a lot references about “the man upstairs.”  Athletes, in particular, like to use this term.  It grates on me.  It’s a glib and demeaning way to refer to God.  It shows lack of respect for God, it lacks humility, and it’s certainly not worship.  It comes from the lips of people who most  likely disregard God in every aspect of their lives.  On top of that, God is not a man.  To refer him as a man is probably the worst thing you can say about him.  He’s the creator of man, he’s eternal, and most of all he’s absolutely holy.  We are totally opposite.   We are finite, riddled with sin, and apart from his grace are sentenced to eternal death and separation from God.  Even animals don’t have that stigma.  And besides that, God is not “upstairs.”  He’s omnipresent.  There is not a place in the universe or in the heavenly realm that he’s not present.  People that refer to “the man upstairs” seem to recognize that there is a God, but conveniently leave out any idea of a holy God that punishes sin.  It’s wishful thinking and one sided to think that God is only a loving God that will give us everything we might want.  This is not only horribly skewed, but leads to eternal damnation and eternal separation from God.  But it’s exactly what Satan would have us believe.  He is the master of deceit, throwing in a little truth mixed with a lot of lies.  I’m tempted to say “May Satan be damned,” but I don’t have to; he is already damned.

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The Ultimate Message

Saturday, February 10                 

Although Jesus did not come right out and say he was God until it came to the interrogations just hours before the crucifixion, neither did he ever deny that he was God.  Instead of making a point blank statement, he provided evidence.  He often used I AM to remind people of the encounter that Moses had at the burning bush.  It was obvious that Moses was speaking with God.  One of the I AMs is recorded by John in John 14:6.  “I am the way and I am the truth and I am the life.  No one comes to the Father except through  me.”  Jesus even modified the Law (Mt.5:21 ff.).  “You have heard that it was said . . . but I say to you . . . ”  He consistently referred to God as his Father.  He applied many O.T. prophecies of the Messiah to himself.  In short, as the Jews concluded—he spoke with authority.  Jesus being identifies as the ultimate messenger is supported by Heb. 1:1-3.  “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.  The Son is the radiance of  God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.  After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”  What a superb summary of Jesus’ incarnate ministry.  It could well be called a creed.

Ultimate messenger, ultimate message, ultimate solution, and ultimate victory.

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The Consummate Messenger

Friday, February 9                     

My focus on words would not be complete without mention of the Bible being called the Word of God—and of Christ being  called the Word.  The Greek word “logos” has been a key theological word going back to the first century.  Why was this Greek word chosen as a synonym for the Bible and for Christ?  Translations of this Greek word include discourse, message, or reason, as well as “word.”  It was used at least 1000 years before the New Testament was written.  Psalm 33:4 says “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.”  The use of “word” here is significant.  It means that God is both the source of all truth and the revealer of truth.  The wording of this verse could also indicate that the “word” is a person, although that might be debatable.  In any case, the Septuagint (Greek O.T.) uses the word “logos” in this verse, which could be the source of its use in the N.T.  The earliest use is found in Luke 1:2.  Luke said he was not an eye witness to Christ’s ministry, but he made a careful investigation of what was handed down from eye witnesses who were  “servants of the word,” i.e., the Apostles.  A few years later, John speaks of Christ as the Word (John 1:1).  Both Luke and John wrote their gospels in Greek; both would have been familiar with the word “logos” in Psalm 33:4.  But why would they use the word “word” (logos) in reference to Christ?  I believe it was to identify Christ as the consummate messenger, sent by the Father with the ultimate message.  And that would be why Jesus focused on being sent from the Father—with less focus on being God—during his ministry.  Believing that he was God’s special messenger would induce the Jews to listen to the message, and it would logically follow that he was their Messiah, and that he was God.  The end result would be that they would accept him as their redeemer.

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Ruminating and Rambling

Thursday, February 8            

Etymology is just part of my fascination with words.  Some words are especially graphic—moonshine, flaky, picturesque.  And we have oxymorons—sweet sorrow, open secret, found missing, alone together, liquid gas, clearly confused, and jumbo shrimp.  Add to that all kinds of figures of speech—metaphors, similes, hyperbole, analogy, parables, fables, anthropomorphisms.   I ruminate on this kind of thing.  We also have synonyms—each one with a slightly different slant.  I often use the word “ruminating,” but also use “meditating” and “rambling,” all of which have to do with mentally exploring an idea or concept.  I got to meditating on “ruminating” the other day.  Ruminate comes from the cow’s practice of chewing its’ cud.  So ruminating takes a single thought and goes over and over it, looking at it from various perspectives so as to get the most meaning out of it.  Meditating is similar, but goes off into related perspectives to flesh out or expand the meaning.  Rambling explores an idea without any boundaries or limitations.  It roams at will, not knowing where it will end up.  By the time you get to a stopping place, you probably have forgotten how it all started.  All three of these can be productive, and can also be a waste of time.  I don’t worry about that.  I continue to ruminate, meditate and ramble.

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