Monday, February 23, 2015

Psalms To See Me Through: Psalm 15—Description of a Citizen of Zion

A Psalm of David.
Zion is the ancient name for Jerusalem, and appears over 150 times in the Old Testament alone. Mt. Zion was the City of David and the city that housed the Tabernacle of David. Zion is where the Lord dwells; it is a place of strength and joy. Zion is where God is praised and where His beauty shines forth. In Zion God’s Name is declared and it is where He reigns. We are citizens of this city.

O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. vv. 1-2.
God’s tent is where His glory shines forth. The Tabernacle of David housed only the Ark of the Covenant which was the glory of God, but with it came a new order of worship. Worship is not only singing, but the way we live. Our obedience is worship. You cannot abide in God’s presence if you are not righteous. We are righteous because of the shed blood of Christ, and because of His sacrifice the precepts of God are now upon our hearts:  

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves {Rom. 2:14 NASB}.

He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the Lord; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken {vv. 3-5}.

These verses breathe the Decalogue in every word. The Ten Commandments are not just a set of binding laws, but a way of life for citizens of Zion; you and me. God desires to dwell with His people; one main purpose for the Tabernacleof Moses and the Tabernacle of David was so that God may dwell with His people.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth {Jn. 1: 1-5, 14 NASB}.

Jerusalem is the holy city and Zion is God’s holy mountain, the place God ordained that His Name should dwell. Zion represents worship; it is God’s mountain. Zion is a fortress, and a symbol of His rule, kingship, and worship. As citizens of the Lord’s city, He expects us to live according to His Word. He has poured out His Grace to strengthen and empower us to live for Him. Let’s live as though we are citizens of Zion—God’s city.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sabbath Sanctuary: Be Thankful And Rest

And now the gift of drifting snow, Wind-sculpted beauty. Cold Comfort (not all His gifts are cozy) invites entrance into a season of austere. Eugene Peterson, Snow, Holy Luck
Colorado is cold and snowy today, but the psalmist refers to both natural and spiritual winter. Rest in the Sabbath of God this weekend, and be assured that when it is cold and dark, God will send forth one Word and melt it all away.
Be thankful this Sabbath rest for even the seemingly small thing. The snow; the cold…yes, be thankful for it all. God always works out His good in us through the cold, dark seasons. Know that He will melt it away. Your thankfulness to Him will grant to you a most restful Sabbath.
In the expiring sun, we squint through the Narrow Gate: the candle flames; we lift our glasses, l’chaim, “to Life!” Eugene Peterson Snow, Holy Luck

Monday, February 16, 2015

Psalms To See Me Through: Psalm 14—The Folly And Wickedness of Men

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one. vv. 1-3  

The folly and wickedness of men. I witnessed it yesterday on my computer screen. I witnessed twenty-one of my brothers in Christ martyred on a beach near Tripoli, on the Mediterranean Sea. Yes, I watched five-plus minutes of a deranged monster declaring the guilt of these men from the hostile Christian Church in Egypt. I watched the angry men, possessed with the murderous spirit of the Anti-Christ, slaughter Christ’s soldiers; His beloved sons. I watched as they sawed through their necks declaring they were dying for worshiping the pagan God. I watched twenty-one men with their hands bound, forced to their knees, lips moving in silent prayer— preparing their hearts to meet Christ, savagely lose their lives. I saw the sea run red with the blood of these saints. Who are the hostile ones?

And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Rev. 20:4 NASB

And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth. Rev. 18:24 NASB

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. Revelation 12:11

Do all the workers of wickedness not know, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the Lord? There they are in great dread, For God is with the righteous generation. You would put to shame the counsel of the afflicted, But the Lord is his refuge. vv. 4-6. 

Do not believe for one moment that God did not see the beheading of His precious saints; their blood that stains the sand also cries out to Him from the sea; and He will give those with the mark of the Anti-Christ what they have coming to them. These precious men were met with robes of white and crowns by Christ Himself. Remember that Christ has already won the victory. We are in the end-times. The devil knows his time is short and he is ramping up his evil and mustering his minions—as seen vividly in these ISIS soldiers. Christ has defeated the devil and he will spend eternity paying for his crimes against humanity. 

For they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it. Rev. 16:6 NASB

And having despoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Col. 2:15 NASB

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven. He had in his hand a key to the hole without a bottom. He also had a strong chain. He took hold of the dragon, that old snake, who is the Devil, or Satan, and chained him for 1,000 years. The angel threw the devil into the hole without a bottom. He shut it and locked him in it. Rev. 20:1-3 NASB

Then the devil who fooled them will be thrown into the lake of fire burning with sulphur. The wild animal and the false preacher are already there. They will all be punished day and night forever. v 10 NASB

Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores His captive people, Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad. Ps. 14:7

We await the second coming of Christ to crush Satan under our feet. I am heartbroken for these twenty-one Christian brothers slaughtered on the beach. But I am rejoicing that they met the Lord whom they faithfully served.
I am thankful for the blood of Christ. Thankful that He died and redeemed me. I pray for the families of those who died at the hand of ISIS militants. I pray too for those ISIS militants. I know that may be hard to do after witnessing the blood those men shed on the beach in Tripoli. Christ shed His blood for them too. Christ does not wish for anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). I pray that the deceiving spirit of the Anti-Christ loses the hold it has on the hearts of these men that are so full of hatred for Christ, and any that would follow Him. I pray the veil is removed from their hearts and that God would raise up His Saul’s (Paul) out of the midst of that evil army. I pray for the Lord to reveal Himself in Damascus Road experiences. It would serve the enemy right for messing with God’s people. I call them out of the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13). They will bow to Christ now, or they will bow to Christ later. But they will bow.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Church, this is our wake-up call. Put aside political correctness and see this enemy for what it is.  Do not be ignorant of the devil's schemes (2 Cor. 2:11). This was not only an attack on citizens of Egypt; it was an attack against those who follow the Lamb. These militants seek a caliphate; Ishmael fighting to usurp Isaac. Israel's PM declares an Aliyah; the regathering of God's people from the nations. These events have apocalyptic implications. The turmoil in the Middle-East along with the rise in anti-Semitism and attacks on Jews around the world are the birth pangs of the return of Christ. What will He find you doing when He returns? 

The twenty-one saints that were beheaded; their names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life:
Milad Makeen Zaky; Abanub Ayad Atiya; Maged Solaiman Shehata; Yusuf Shukry Yunan; Kirollos Shockry Fawzy; Bishoy Astafanus Kamel; Somaily Astafanus Kamel; Malak Ibrahim Sinweet; Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros; Girgis Milad Sinweet; Mina Fayez Aziz; Hany Abdelmesish Salib; Bishoy Adel Khalaf; Samuel Alham Wilson; Worker from AWR village; Ezat Bishri Naseef; Loqa Nagaty; Gaber Munir Adly; Esam Badir Samir; Malak Farag Abram; Sameh Salah Faruq. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sabbath Sanctuary: God's Love is Unfathomable

Rest In God. Spend time in your Sabbath Sanctuary this weekend with the God who loves you so much, that He created you, called you by name, and made you His own. The best valentine one could hope for. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Psalms to See Me Through: Psalm 13—A Prayer For Help in Trouble

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? {v.1}

Sometimes our despair, our hope deferred, masks itself to convince us that God is hiding. But He never hides His face. Never.

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? {v. 2}

It feels like God has hidden His face, not because He is hiding, but we are. Since the fall we hide ourselves from God’s presence, because of shame, fear, and regret. We attempt to find the answer within ourselves; but apart from Him, we feel hopeless. You can’t find the answer? God is right where you left Him.

 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, 
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken {vv. 3-4}.

God, revive me. Revive every tired area with your life-giving Spirit. If I remain in despair, my enemy will triumph over me. If I allow the darkness to be a shadow that hides me from Your light, I cannot overcome. Don’t let my enemy rejoice over me. I don’t want the enemy to triumph over me, and if I continue in despair I lose. With God as my help, I win.

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me {vv. 5-6}.

To read all the Psalms in this series
Psalms To See Me Through

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sabbath Sanctuary: New Life

One of my favorite things in life is witnessing the springing of new life; blooming flowers in the midst of winter. For me it’s witnessing the divine. It is a beautiful reminder from the Lord, that the harsh winter is almost over, and He is springing new life—even though it still looks cold and dark, new life is on its way.
Look! The winter has passed, the winter rains are over and gone {Song of Songs 2:11 NET}

So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth {Hosea 6:3}.
Rest this Sabbath, God has a new thing on the way. Rest.This cold dark season will pass, and new life is springing up.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Psalms To See Me Through: Psalm 12—God Is A Helper Against The Treacherous

For the choir director; upon an eight-stringed lyre. A Psalm of David. 
Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from among the sons of men {v.1}.

The world is full of so much evil that sometimes it’s hard to see the good. It is easy to feel as though we are the only righteous ones left. Another righteous man of God felt the same way when he faced a very evil king and queen and five-hundred of their prophets. Elijah confronted those five-hundred on Mt. Carmel and the God of Heaven answered him by fire. But one threat by Jezebel in retaliation sent Elijah running for his life. Words can frighten and intimidate. This is one of the devil's most devious schemes. Elijah  hides in the desert afraid for his life and overwhelmed by his circumstances. God finally asks him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” Has God ever asked you that question? He has me; too many times. Too many times I have felt overwhelmed with my circumstances, wondering how long I will have to endure. God knew what Elijah was doing⸺he was hiding. I hide. You hide. The Lord is telling us it is time to come out of our cave.
Elijah answers the Lord of Hosts, 
I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” {1 Kings 19:14 NASB}.

It is so easy to feel like we are the only ones left that serve God. The lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life {see 1 Jn. 2:16} reign over our culture; finding the righteous can be challenging through the darkness. But God doesn’t let Elijah stay there in his dark night of the soul; He assures him that he is not alone, and that God has set aside for Himself those that will not succumb to the darkness that seems to be ruling. God Reigns.

Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him {1 Kings 19:18. NASB}.

When I feel like Elijah did while hiding in his cave, I remember God’s promise to me⸺I remember His goodness. He will not leave me, will not forsake me.

They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, The tongue that speaks great things; who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?” {vv. 2-4}.

Words can be hurtful. They can tear down and cause pain. People will not always speak well of you
no matter how good you are. The culture today is full of words and people talking. The cowardly hide behind their computers while spewing hate. No one knows them nor do they need to prove their character. They spew vile with seemingly little or no consequence. But what they is speak falsehood. They believe that no one will hold them accountable. It is our fallenness displayed in self-aggrandizement. 

Be not wise in your own eyes. Fear the Lord and turn away from evil {Prov. 3:7}.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith
{Rom. 12:3}.

The Lord will always rise to defend those who love Him; those who are desperate; those in despair. The Words of the Lord are true; reliable; dependable; He will fight on behalf of the needy.
Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, now I will arise,” says the Lord; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.” The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth refined seven times. You, O Lord, will keep them; You will preserve him from this generation forever. The wicked strut about on every side when vileness is exalted among the sons of men” {vv. 5-8}.

Not one Word that God has spoken has failed. Not one. His Word does not fail. Are you afflicted today? God says He will arise on your behalf. Are you needy today? God will raise you up according to His Word. His Word has been tried and tested and passes with flying colors. Every time. God will keep you; that is His promise. Let the wicked speak what they will. Let those who hurt you with their words say what they will. The wicked strut but God preserves you.

To read all the Psalms in this series click here: Psalms To See Me Through

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