Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sabbath Sanctuary: The Scent Of Water And A Resurrection Plant

For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail. Though its roots grow old in the ground and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant {Job 14: 7-9 NASB}.

The desert. This blistering, thirsty land is used often as a metaphor to describe a spiritual season, one in which we find ourselves parched and seeking for God when He seems silent; brass heavens. The Psalmist illustrates this quite poetically:

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? {Ps. 42:1-2 NASB}. 

I recently saw the pages of Scripture come alive in God’s beautiful and glorious creation. I love when the Lord through His creation, illustrates spiritual truths. I was watching Planet Earth: Africa and watched in amazement, as the narrator described plant life in the Sahara Desert. There is a ball of weed, severely dried out and at all appearances seems dead. It is similar to tumbleweed, but its branches are much thicker and more brittle. This weed is tossed about in the wind, but it takes strong winds to blow it across the dry desert sands.

This weed, though it looks dried-out and dead, when it finds just a small puddle of water, hard to find in the Sahara, it roots itself in the puddle. Once this weed finds a small patch of water, what once seemed dead, comes to life and unfurls. This alone is a miracle, but it needs one more. It waits for the rain, but the rain must come before it dries out again. The rain pours down on its dead, dry branches, and as the rain falls, it knocks the seeds off this dry bushel and within hours, fresh, new, green shoots emerge and break through the sand. This amazing plant within weeks of sprouting, flower and develop their own seeds. The hot sun beats down and dries them out and the cycle begins again. This plant is not a weed after all; it is a resurrection plant. These plants, while in their dried-out stage, can blow around in the Sahara for as long as one-hundred years, yet when the wind and rain come, it resurrects to spread its seed through the desert.

Do you have dreams that seem to have died? Do you feel dead and dry spiritually? Jesus can resurrect everything that seems dead; all your hopes and dreams. Your purpose and calling are not dead; at the very scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs{v.9}, like this resurrection plant in the Sahara Desert.  Rest this Sabbath weekend in the truth that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and Life {Jn. 14:6 NASB}, He is resurrection life.

Below is a video of this miraculous plant. As you watch, let it speak to you, let God speak to you and bring back to life those things that seem dead. Rest and believe that they will sprout forth again at the scent of the Living Water of Jesus. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Wonder of God's Word Part V: Christ Revealed~ His Righteousness

The last time I wrote concerning Christ revealed in Scripture, was a few years ago; longer than I care to admit. The season of Lent has moved me to contemplate Christ and all that He has done for me. Not only in my life, but for my life, through His sacrificial death and resurrection. Placing pen to page, I attempt to show you the Beautiful and Glorious Christ. 

I wrote before concerning the prophecies in Scripture of His birth, and in the last post in that series, I penned what the Lord prophesied through His Word concerning Christ’s Character; how will a broken, unrighteous, sinful world know that the One who came, and made extravagant claims concerning Himself, is the Messiah. That is where I will pick up again.

I left off with the prophecies concerning the Messiah’s holiness. Jesus, the Messiah, is the second Person of the Godhead; He did not “begin” at Bethlehem’s manager. Jesus is the pre-existent second Person of the Godhead, and was with God in the beginning; “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am’” {see Jn. 8:58 NASB}.  He was with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the beginning, and was an active agent in creation. He brought with Him the attribute of pre-existent holiness. I turn now turn to His righteousness.

Righteousness. We all seek to live right before the Lord, but so often we fail. The only way that we can be righteous is through Christ’s shed blood. Righteousness means being ‘right’ or ‘just’ in all things. The pre-existent One is Righteous, because He is God. The act of making us righteous is justification. Scripture uses righteousness as judged by the standard of God’s holy law, by which God reveals to us His character, and is illustrated through the Decalogue {Ten Commandments} {see Ex. 20:1-17}. [1] 
God the Father is righteous (just); Jesus Christ the Son is the Righteous (Just) One; the Father through the Son and in the Spirit, gives the gift of righteousness (justice) to those sinners who repent. When we repent, He is faithful and just to forgive us of all unrighteousness {see 1 Jn. 1:9}. We are made righteous through the Holy Spirit working in us.

As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the  Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities {Isaiah 53:11 NASB}. {Author’s Emphasis}

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord {Is. 54:17 KJV}. {Author’s Emphasis}

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions {Heb. 1:8-9 NASB}. {Author’s Emphasis}

Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus {Rom. 3: 25-26 NASB}. {Author’s Emphasis}

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him {1 Jn. 2:29}. {Author’s Emphasis}

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous {1 Jn. 3:7}. {Author’s Emphasis}

Jesus is just and righteous in all His ways. His life was a witness to His righteousness. He was obedient to the Father, He never deceived anyone, and His life and ministry was perfect before the Father. Because of His sinless life, He was qualified to be our righteousness. Therefore, He is the Righteous One. 

[1] Herbert Lockyer, All The Messianic Prophecies Of The Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), 87. 

To read all the posts in this series click here: Who Is This Jesus? 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Names Of God: Elohim-God, Mighty Creator

I want to know the Lord deeper. I have been walking with Him for twenty-five plus years, and I still desire more of Him. One way that I have come to know Him more is by studying His Names in Scripture. His divine Names teach us His nature and character, and help us to know Him in a deeper way. I pray that you go on this journey with me into the divine Names of God, so that you too, will know Him in a deeper, more intimate way.

I love nature. I can watch Planet Earth forever. My dream is to live on acreage with horses, and maybe a couple jersey cows, and definitely chickens. I yearn to walk out my backdoor and down a long dirt road with nothing but wide-open spaces before me. I want to grow my own food, as much as possible. Books on living in the country, gardening and farming, and the like adorn my bookcases. Wendell Berry…hello!

I love green and the fresh rain of spring, giving life to the dead left behind by the winter, and witnessing the growth of new life. I love the orange, reds, and yellow of autumn that usher in the harvest, and apples and pumpkins. The changing of the colors is a spectacular display of beauty in nature. Though winter is my least favorite season {I don’t like being cold}, here in Colorado a fresh blanket of snow on the landscape is breathtaking. The love I have for nature is not new, it has been a part of me since I can remember. To say that I love nature is not quite accurate; I love creation.

My love for creation is however, surpassed by my love for the Creator of the universe. The creation story begins in Genesis:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth {1:1}.

The Hebrew Word for God is Elohim {'elohim, אֱלֹהִים}. Elohim is the first Name for God found in Scripture, and it is the Name associated with creation. He created everything ex nihilo (out of nothing or out of the void). The original creation event wasn’t the making of something within time and space; that event created time and space and everything else from nothingness.[1]

Elohim is the plural form of El or Eloah. The Name is one of the oldest descriptions for divinity; it was borrowed from El. It can refer to pagan deities as well as the true God.  Elohim is used more than 2,500 times in the Old Testament, and thirty-two times in Genesis chapter one alone. The plural form is not used to describe a belief in many gods but to emphasize the majesty of the one true God, and Christians recognize the plural form as a hint of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.[2] Beyond the first chapter of Genesis, Elohim is accompanied with the word Yahweh; we see Yahweh Elohim translated in Scripture as—the LORD God.

Elohim is the One who separated the water from the land; created the moon and stars and the seasons. He created Adam and breathed His breath of life into him, and He formed Eve from Adam’s side. This Name holds the idea of God’s creative power, and His authority and sovereignty over all the earth. The Bible tells us that when God brought the universe into existence, He exerted a tremendous amount of power.[3] Not only did Elohim create the world, but He sustains it as well. The world cannot be moved, and it is held together day-by-day; while you are sleeping, God is holding everything together.

The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength; indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved {Ps. 93:1}.

Not only did Elohim create the world, but He sustains it as well. The world cannot be moved, He holds it together with great strength and power through His Son:

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they {Heb. 1:3}.

Elohim created the world, and His power is mightily displayed in creation for all to witness. One stroke of His paint brush and we see the green of spring, the tall, yellow sunflowers in summer, the orange and red of autumn, the snow-capped mountains in winter, as well as lightning and thunder—all display His power in creation. Paul tells us in Romans that “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”{1:20}. Creation proves the existence of God.

The same power that created the world, raised Jesus Christ from the dead to live forever more, and His strength is exercised for us as well. The same power that raised Christ from the dead, also gives life to us through the Spirit that dwells down inside of us {Rom. 8:11}. Praise the Lord.

Further evidence of His power in creation is displayed in the galaxy. A galaxy is a cluster of stars, and according to one estimate, two-hundred billion stars exist in our galaxy. Dr. Futato explains further that our galaxy is only part of a cluster of galaxies. Our galaxy consists of twenty other galaxies in a cluster called the Local Cluster, which is part of a super cluster; all together an estimated 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars exist in the universe! Yet the Psalmist states that Elohim counts the number of the stars and gives names to all of them {Ps. 147:4}. Great is the Lord and mighty in power! {v.5}

Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth, Sing praises to the Lord, Selah. To Him who rides upon the highest heavens, which are from ancient times; Behold, He speaks forth with His voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe strength to God; His majesty is over Israel And His strength is in the skies. O God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary. The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people. Blessed be God! {Ps. 68: 32-35}.

When I study the heavens, I see God’s character expressed in the order, beauty, complexity, and harmony of the many marvelous worlds he has made.[4]

Elohim is the Creator of this big, beautiful world. If He has all this power in creation—creating and sustaining all you see, you should be confident that He has the power to handle any situation that comes your way, any trial or circumstance, He has the power to overcome the enemy—He has already overcome him through Christ’s death and resurrection. If you need hope today, look at creation. Walk out into this beautiful world that He made and Loves. In awe and wonder praise Him for His creation and know that He holds everything in His hands. He will take care of you. The power that you see in creation declares His glory and might. The majestic mountains that reach into the sky, the roaring rivers, the burst of unimaginable colors of nature—all declare the glory of God. The power that raised Christ from the dead is God’s power for you too, to overcome even the darkest valley. He created the world, He created you. He sustains the world, He sustains you. He promises to sustain you, and He who promised is faithful {Heb. 10:23}.

Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope {Ps. 119:116}.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power {Is. 40:28-29}.

To believe in God the Creator means to believe that he created me along with all other created beings. Few have progressed so far as to believe this in the fullest sense. Martin Luther

[1] David Bradstreet and Steve Rabey, Star Struck: Seeing The Creator In The Wonders Of Our Cosmos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 38.
[2] Ann Spangler, Praying The Names Of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 17.
[3] Mark D. Futato, Creation: A Witness To The Wonder of God (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2000), 25.
[4] Bradstreet and Rabey, 36.