Your View of God Is a Reflection of You

A passage in Psalm 18 really stood out to me this morning.

“With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.”

The conception among many Christians is that God is angry with us. If we don’t repent, then He pour out His wrath on us. I’m not saying this is completely wrong, but I believe God has been leading me to go deeper than I, and many other Christians, have in the past on this idea.

Yes, we have sinned horribly against God. We denied him. We believed the lie about Him, that He was keeping something from us. We took the lie so far that when He came to earth as Jesus, one who was perfect and Isaiah 53:9 says did no violence and no deceit was found in his mouth, we crucified Him. Our sin murdered Jesus. Our corrupt, wicked, evil system, which is really Satan’s kingdom, murdered God. For that we must repent if we want to enter the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, eternal life. This was the thrust of Jesus’ entire ministry for the first words of His ministry were “The kingdom of heaven is at hand, repent and believe the gospel.”

But, for those that don’t repent, is it God’s wrath that will be poured out on them? Or, is it the lies and the violence of the unrepentant themselves that will come back on their own head? Throughout the Bible we see that the pit the wicked dug they themselves fall into. Or, the snare that evil people set they get caught in themselves. And, in the depictions of Satan (for example, Goliath and Haman), he is almost always killed with his own weapon.

The repentant have become merciful, blameless, and purified. And, to the repentant God shows Himself as such. But, to the unrepentant, the crooked, God makes Himself seem tortuous. It seems to them like God is vengeful, spiteful, and vindictive, pouring His wrath out on them. However, in reality it is their own lies and violence that is coming back on their own heads (the Psalms often speak of this idea).

Satan’s kingdom is marked by two things – lies and murder (John 8). Satan’s character is to lie, therefore he speaks lies and is the father of lies. All those in his kingdom, the unrepentant, do the same because Satan is their father. Satan is also a murderer from the beginning, having spiritually murdered Adam and Eve. All those in his kingdom, the unrepentant, do the same because Satan is their father. In Satan’s kingdom, the lies and murder (as well as all evil, violence, and wickedness) will escalate until that kingdom is completely burned down as it reaps what it sows.

Again, remember Isaiah 53:9. “And they made his [Jesus] grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” Jesus didn’t do those things because they are not in His, or God’s, nature. This is why Jesus could say in John 14:30-31, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world [Satan] approaches. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”

So, while God permits this, is the wrath His? Or, is he simply letting the unrepentant reap what they have sown? Is God rewarding the unrepentant according to their deeds?

Could it even be “God’s wrath” that will be poured out? Based on what we see in Jesus, who is the radiance and glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1), wouldn’t this be God returning evil for evil? Remember Jesus did no violence and spoke no lies. He does not operate anything at all like the world, the system, that we see around us. Rather, Jesus, God, returns evil with good.

All this speaks to why Jesus says that we must repent to enter His kingdom. There must be a complete change of mind and attitude, seeing the earth and fellow men and women in a completely different light, so that we can be and do differently than we ever have before.

Just something I’ve been meditating on for a while now.

Psalm 17 – Is It David or Jesus?

Psalm 17 – A Prayer of David. That’s what my Bible says. But, is it David or Jesus that is speaking?

In my message yesterday, I mentioned that all lie and murder or do violence in that they have denied God by exchanging the truth about him for the lie. As a result, when God came in to the world through, Jesus all men murdered Jesus with their sin.

But, Isaiah 53:9 says that Jesus was different. It says he did no violence and had no deceit on his lips. Therefore, I think we can read Psalm 17 as a prayer from Jesus. Sure, David wrote it. And, every word was most likely true for him. But, the spirit of it is Jesus.

The psalm asks God to give ear to the speaker’s prayer because his lips were free from deceit. The only one that ever truly say that was Jesus. And by the word of God’s lips, the speaker has avoided the ways of the violent. Again, only Jesus never did any violence.

Jesus Daily Meets My Needs through Scripture

Today, I’m speaking at church that is having an open air meeting for the community and a BBQ afterwards. The church/community is in the projects on the west side of the city.

I had been praying about what to speak about. First, I thought about a message that I had put together on repentance. But, I didn’t think I should do that the first time I was with this group. It was pretty hard hitting and I wanted to do something more uplifting, exciting. So, I decided against the first impression God gave me.

Second, I thought I repeat a message I gave earlier in the year in the Philippines. It was called “Christ, Our Interpreter.” The Lord has had that idea heavy on my heart for more than a year. I figured this would be better since no one knew who I was. I think my real thought was that it would make me more likable.

But, yesterday I talked with the pastor of the church and he informed of the open air meeting. He said when they do that type of meeting he likes to make sure that the gospel is presented. Well, the Lord settled it right there. I was to give the message on repentance. I should have listened to the Lord the first time around.

Which brings me to today’s reading. Many of the psalms that were in the reading are in my message, fitting perfectly with what I’m speaking about. Once again the Lord has provided through His Word, Jesus, just what I need in the scripture for that day. Over and over, Jesus confirms things for me through the scripture.

Are You Focusing on the Function or the Form?

In 2 Samuel 16, God is looking for a new king to replace Saul. Saul was chosen because of his outward appearance. But, as Samuel is looking for a new, God tells him, “Do not look on his outward appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Everything created has a purpose, function, and form. They come in that order. First a purpose is given, which gives rise to a function so that the purpose can be fulfilled. Then a form is given so that the function can be expressed. God starts with purpose, then gives function, then form. Form follows function, as the saying goes.

But, man looks at the outward appearance, or the form first. Saul was a full head taller than everyone. He was handsome. Then, we assume that the form dictates the function. Well…because Saul looked like he did, he should king. They put form before function. This is Satanic!

In Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, we read that Satan’s pride and fall began because he was caught up in how beautiful he was – his form. He ignored the function God gave him – a covering cherub – and because of his form believed he should rule everything, including God. Satan’s God-given function was the most exalted in creation, save being God. Satan tricked Eve into focusing on the form of the tree of knowledge of good and evil instead of the function of the tree of life (she would need it to stay alive). I believe scripture shows that tree of the knowledge of good and evil was big and beautiful but the tree of life was a vine growing along the ground.

I could go on and on (and I am in a book I am writing), but the lesson is not to get caught up in the outward appearance. It can be very deceiving. Focus on the form and you will lose site of your function. Instead, focus on the function and the purpose God wants fulfilled. That is where life is.

A Rejection of Jesus as King?

Jude 5 says that Jesus saved Israel out of Egypt and destroyed those who did not believe (I’m thinking the Egyptians at the Red Sea). Also, the angel of the Lord, there’s Jesus again, led the battle to conquer the promised land in Joshua. If you delivered a people from their oppressors while destroying the oppressors and conquered the land that people settled in, then wouldn’t you be the king of that people? So, could we say, in some sense, that Jesus was Israel’s king?

During the period of the judges, Israel was between periods of attack and relative peace. Towards the end of this period, Israel looked at Samuel’s sons, who took bribes. I can imagine Israel thinking these sons would be next in line to judge. So, they asked Samuel to put a king over them. They wanted a visible, tangible king that would make them like every other nation. Perhaps they hoped they could establish a more permanent peace with this king.

Samuel didn’t like the idea. But, God said to Israel have their king. They were rejecting him, not Samuel. So, in a sense, wasn’t Israel rejecting Jesus as king?

The rest of the Old Testament shows nothing good happened as a result of Israel rejecting God’s sovereignty. Basically, the result was a lot of violence.

The same is true for us when we reject Jesus, the Prince of Peace, as king today. According to James, it is from our lustful desires, ultimately a rejection of Jesus’ sovereignty so that we can rule, that all strife and war come.

No Jesus, No Revelation

“In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” – 1 Samuel 3:1

“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” – Proverbs 29:18

The word of the Lord. That’s Jesus. When Jesus isn’t around, there’s no vision. And, where there is no vision the people cast off restraint, or perish.

This stood out to me this morning as I read the first seven chapters of 1 Samuel. A distinction was drawn between Samuel and Eli and his sons. Samuel was wholly dedicated to Lord while Eli and his sons were serving themselves. The word of the Lord may have been rare in those days, but Samuel had him. Eli and his sons did not.

One sign of this was Eli, the judge of Israel, went blind. He had no vision because he did not have the word of the Lord. But, Samuel slept near the ark of God and heard God speaking. He heard the word of the Lord and had prophetic vision. Samuel heard Jesus, then saw the truth. This is true for us to day – first we have to hear them we can see. We hear Jesus and his words then he enlightens us with the truth.

A second sign was that Eli’s sons were treating the offerings of the people to God as if they were their own. They weren’t following God’s commands and were taking whatever portion of the offerings they wanted. They had no vision and they had cast off restraint. Even though Eli knew, he did nothing to stop it. In fact, the text seems to say that Eli ate of the offerings too. Instead of ministering to the people and mediating God’s presence to them, they were taking advantage of the people via their position. Samuel on the other hand heard the Lord and he received a clear revelation of the situation. The Lord told Samuel, “And I declare to him [Eli] that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.”

What was the end result? Eli and his sons were punished just as God said. But, for Samuel, “The Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 3:21)

You could say Samuel continued to see God by hearing Jesus.

Jesus Facts – I Am, He Is, You Are

In the Old Testament, the angel of the Lord is Jesus before he took on flesh and became a man.

In Judges 13 the angel of the Lord appears to Manoah’s wife, the mother of Samson. He tells her that even though she was barren she is going to have a son and what she should do. The angel of the Lord appears a second time. This time Manoah sees him and asks him if he is the man who spoke to his wife. The angel of the Lord says “I am.”

How interesting that this was the angel of the Lord’s response. Jesus declares himself I Am in John’s Gospel. For, I Am is the name of God. It is Jehovah or Lord in the Bible. I Am means that Jesus is ever present, eternally self-existent. While there are many promises of and about Jesus in the Bible (e.g. I will deliver you), Jesus as the I Am name is a fact. I Am is not a promise but a reality, a truth, a fact.

The verb “is” is the same as “am.” “Is” is a statement of fact too. To say He is is just like saying I am. When we say “He is my strength” or “He is my deliverer”, we are stating the ever present reality and truth of who and what Jesus is. There is nothing we can add to or take away from that fact. He is. When we simply put our trust, belief, and faith in these facts of Jesus, in these truths of Jesus,  in His name, then we have what He is. It is ours. No struggle. No effort of the will. No striving. We just receive Him.

Check out Hebrews 11:6. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Notice how the writer says “He is” because the author is writing about God (and Jesus).

But, what if God were saying that verse directly? It would read, “And without faith it is impossible to please me, for he who comes to me must believe that I am and that I am a rewarder of those who seek me.”

And, what if I were repeating this truth back to God, perhaps in prayer? I would say, “And without faith is impossible to please you, for he comes to you must believe that you are and that you are a rewarder of those who seek you.”

The facts of Jesus – I Am, He Is, You Are. Look at the fact of that verse. Meditate on it.

This was blowing my mind last night as I read a fantastic little book called Victory in Christ by Charles Trumbull. I highly recommend it.