Singing Hallelujahs

Tuesday, August 15                   
The first verse of the gospel song “Mercy” is “Mercy, mercy, grace as endless as the sea.  I’ll sing Hallelujah throughout eternity.”  There’s a bit of a flaw in this statement.  The sea is really not endless.  God’s grace is.  I don’t have a big problem with this.  It’s a poetic expression and should be given poetic license.  But we need to meditate on the eternal nature of God’s grace.  His grace doesn’t stop with our conversion.  We experience God’s grace every second of every day, every breath we take, every word we speak.  The composer, Matt Redman, got it right.  And God’s grace will not diminish in heaven.  Every moment of heaven will be because of his grace. The splendor of his grace will be so meaningful that we will worship him as never before.  As the KJV puts it in, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  We shall then have full understanding of God’s grace.  But that last part of 1 Cor. 13:12 staggers me.  Does it mean that we will know God to the same degree that he knows us?  In any case, our new understanding of God goes beyond grace—his holiness, his sovereignty, no more sin nature, and infinity itself—and no doubt things about God that we have no concept of in this life.  It will be an interesting eternity!  The composer of “Mercy” got that, too.  We will sing “Hallelujah” throughout eternity. In case you’ve forgotten what “Hallelujah” means, it’s “praise to Yahweh (God).”  Joining the millions of angels and saints that will be singing Hallelujahs will be an awesome experience.

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Living in the Present Tense

Monday, August 14                 

Warren Wiersbe, in his book “On Being a Servant of God” says (p. 44) “I don’t read my Bible in the past tense.”  That may seem a bit wierd since the last event recorded in the Bible is about 2000 years old.  That’s past tense.  But Wiersbe’s point is that the truths of the Bible need to be applied to our lives today.  That’s present tense.  Here’s an example.  It’s so easy to praise the men and women listed in Hebrews 11 without getting the point.  They’re examples.  God wants to use us, too.  We need the same two characteristics that they had—faith and availability.  What would God like to do in my life?  Or yours?  We need to say as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6.  “Here am I.  Send me.”  That’s trust and availability.  Wiersbe makes a great point.  And he didn’t just talk about living in the present tense.  He practiced it.  The Bible also deals with the future tense.  I’m trusting God for that, too.  And I’m for sure available.      

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The Nephilim

Sunday, August 13                          

Gen. 6:1-8 is one of the most debated topics in Scripture.  A core issue is identifying the Sons of God and the daughters of men.  Are the Sons of God men or angels?  I’ll say right up front that I see no reason to think that angels are involved.  First of all, angels do not reproduce.  When the Sadducees tried to trap Jesus with their question about marriage in heaven (Lk. 20:27ff.) Jesus said that people in heaven would not marry, but be like the angels.  There is no place in Scripture that even hints that angels propagate.  Propagation was for mankind to fill the earth, so there would be no reason for angels to get involved.  Secondly, only mankind is consistently referred to as “sons of God” in the Bible.  Luke, in giving Jesus’ lineage, refers to Adam as a son of God (Lk. 3:38).  Thirdly, the account of creation distinctly puts parameters on procreation—“after their kinds” (species).  That refers to earthly creatures.  It would be unreasonable to think that it would not apply to cohabitation between earthly creatures and celestial creatures.  Now, turning to the Gen. 6 passage, the word “Nephilim” means “fallen ones,” which theoretically could include fallen angels, but the context does not tell us that.  They are called men in verse four.  Furthermore, when God determined to destroy the world because of all this wickedness, he said that he would wipe out “mankind.”  Many Bible scholars believe that the sons of  God are the descendants of Seth and the daughters of men would be the Cainites.  That makes sense to me.  Apparently Seth and his descendants remained faithful to God while the descendants of Cain were wicked.  Up to Gen. 6, that is.  With the descendants of Seth joining the wicked Cain line,  God decided to take action.  The flood narrative follows.

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Teaching by Example

Saturday, August 12               

We can learn by example as well as by direct teaching.  .John 1:40-41.  When Andrew realized that he had found the Messiah, the first thing he did was share the good news with his brother, Simon Peter (John 1:43-45).  And as soon as Philip discovered that Christ was the Messiah, he immediately went to tell Nathaniel (John 1:45).  Obviously, one does not need to know “the whole story” in order to witness about Christ.  There are a lot of other truths that are exposed by example in the Bible.  And if you think of your own life, you will remember lots of important things that changed your life in the same way.  Maybe a particular event, or a critical decision you made, or a mentor that showed you love and guidance.  I’m not going to regale you with such past experiences in my life, just to say that there were three or four that stand out to me more than others.  God is at work every day to bring us into a more meaningful relationship with him, and it doesn’t have to be by direct teaching.  Look and learn.  My point is that we need to be the kind of people that will direct people to God.  He will do the changing.

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Spiritual Fasting

Friday, August 11                   

There’s another related application in this idea of eating Jesus’ flesh in John 6:53.  Our physical lives are maintained by food and drink.  We don’t just eat and drink one day and then cease to eat and drink the next.  We need to restore our energy every day.  We can fast for a short time, but life will end if we don’t continue to eat and drink.  That’s the way it is with our spiritual life, too.  We need to partake of food from heaven on a regular basis.   “Spiritual fasting” is deadly.  In 1 Cor. 11:27-30 Paul refers to eating the bread and drinking the cup in connection with the communion table.  After dealing with people who eat and drink of the Lord’s table unworthily he says “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”  I think that weakness, sickness and “falling asleep” might also be caused by “Spiritual fasting.”  While Paul is speaking of physical sickness and physical death, we can also be sick spiritually and we can be virtually spiritually dead—in the sense that we are totally ineffective in serving the Lord.  Christ is our daily nourishment.  Jesus uses the analogy of the grape vine to make this point.  A constant connection with the vine is what eventually produces the fruit.  Branches that are not producing are cut off.  I’m not suggesting that an ineffective Christian loses his salvation.  Paul didn’t imply that those who had fallen asleep had lost their salvation, either.  But I don’t want to some day stand before the Lord empty handed.  So I need his daily nourishment.

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Eating Jesus’ Flesh

Thursday, August 10                

Probably the most enigmatic statement Jesus made during his ministry is recorded in John 6:53.  “ . . . unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”    Jesus made it clear in v. 47  that eating the living bread was equivalent to believing in Christ.  There should have been no problem with this, but it raised havoc among Jesus’ disciples.  “On hearing it, many of his disciples said ‘This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?’. . . From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him (vv. 60, 66).  Jesus prefaced this statement by declaring that he was the bread of heaven, as pictured by the manna that fed the Israelites in the desert after leaving Egypt.  That movement from Egypt to the promised land was an analogy of eternal life.  The old life of bondage in Egypt is being replaced by a new life in the promised land.  Christ, the bread from heaven, would bring eternal life through his death on the cross, offered to all who would believe.  Jesus had consistently claimed to be the Son of God sent from heaven to be the  “reflection” of the Father.  By acknowledging that, the Jews would accept their Messiah—and listen to the message, which was a matter of eternal life or eternal death.  Even the twelve had a problem with Jesus’ statement.  Knowing this, Jesus asked them if they wanted to leave him, too (v. 67).  Peter’s answer is interesting.  ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”  That’s a concise and firm statement of faith.  Peter was no doubt speaking for all twelve.  And I’m sure that Jesus knew what their reaction would be, but wanted it to be “on record.”

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Happiness is . . .

Wednesday, August 9           

Everyone has needs and everyone has wants.  Life starts that way.  A new born baby needs milk, loving care, diapers changed.  It doesn’t take long for those needs to branch out to include wants.  He wants things to play with, he wants his own way.  As time goes on, he wants a tricycle, then a bicycle, then a motorcycle and eventually a sports car.  That is just a microcosm of the whole process, but you get the picture.  His wants become demands.  He gets obsessed and emotional about them.  He is not interested in pleasing others and is focused on his own wants.  In spiritual terms, the sin nature has taken over.  Most people adjust to this to a degree and realize that satisfying one’s own wants requires dependence on others who have needs and wants of their own.  So a “quid pro quo” modifies his behavior.  Some never make that adjustment and end up in jail.   All of this—with or without adjustments—is a desire for happiness.  Happiness is perhaps the greatest need a person has.  But happiness will only be found in God.  A lot of people don’t know that.  They keep on looking for happiness in things that they want, their toys, things that give them a measure of temporary enjoyment.  There’s a wide gulf between God’s view of needs and man’s view.  This is true of Christians just as it is with unbelievers.  God wants things that meet our needs—not necessarily our wants.  God is not going to change; we need to change.  God’s desire is to make us happy, which comes by his meeting all our needs.  The road to happiness is wanting what God wants.

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