Literal Truth

Psalm 44: 3

Our forefathers didn’t win these battles by their own strength or their own skill or strategy. But it was through the shining forth of your radiant presence and the display of your mighty power. You loved to give them victory, for you took great delight in them.

The writer of this psalm seems confident in his statement that their forefathers’ victories were not the result of their own strength, skill or battle strategy. The triumph was not the result of their own wisdom, experience or knowledge. Instead, the psalmist would have us believe that victory came through God’s presence and might. Can we believe this? And, if their victory really was the result of Father’s presence can we enjoy the same kind of outcomes?

This is a little hard to believe, isn’t it? I mean, at a philosophical level, no. It is easy to accept philosophically. We can rationalize that it is God’s strength within us which leads to victory. It is the gift of wisdom which He gave us that results in triumph. The psalmist seems to differentiate from this analytical conclusion though. Is it possible that when he wrote this psalm he was being literal? The psalms are songs. Might he have written these lines in celebration of a literal truth?

I believe the answers to these questions can challenge us at a very deep, almost primal level. If we believe the psalmist meant for us to take these words at face value rather than as a poetic nuance of real events, then it presents for us a dilemma of faith and trust. If it really was the presence of God which carried the day, then we need to understand and appreciate this kind of faith walk. Most of us don’t have enemies shooting at us, or armies bearing down on us but we have challenges pertinent and relevant to our day and time. However, let us not forget that while most of us are safe, we do have sisters and brothers who actually are in danger for their lives and some of them, like the ancient Israelites, specifically in danger because of their faith. Selah – pause here and consider and maybe even offer a prayer of safety for them.

One might conjecture that we are better equipped to walk in the power of God’s grace, mercy and power on this side of the cross than our faith forefathers. We have the testimony of Christ and his example of a life lived in the manifested wisdom of God. We also are on this side of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the Spirit is the power of God. We are better positioned to live in his power than the generations which went before. Jesus ushered in a new way of living with God. Have we, though, actually learned what this means and found how this life is lived? Are we still stumbling in Old Testament theology unversed in the revelation of Christ?

I fear this is the case. It seems to me that we live a hermetically sealed life where our reach is stunted. Nothing seeps into our box and we do not extend ourselves in exuberant faith, risk or trust. We live safe lives but not passionate lives. We live within limited boundaries so that we do not have to extend ourselves. We are not forced to trust God because we take life in this limited capacity. We don’t listen to the voice of God within us because he may ask us to do something that is risky. We don’t believe the Bible and don’t take it at face value because we may have to face some uncomfortable truths. Best if we rationalize away these uncomfortable passages, relegating them into the province of fantasy.

We should be living above the miracles of the Old Testament. We should be experiencing works beyond what Christ did. That’s what he said anyway (John 14: 12). We should be a people unlike the world has ever seen. The mighty hand of God ought to be evident in our lives and infecting all we come in contact with. I want this life. I want to know what the life Jesus anticipated for us looks like. I want to be a Christ disciple and actually walk as he did and live according to his faith in me. The life Jesus died to give us must be grander than the life most of us Christians live today. What is necessary for us to live our destiny? Our God is so much bigger than our lives. His plan for us is full of His faith.

Our Father, be our mighty warrior; be our strength and wisdom today as we turn to you. Teach us to walk in faith and trust. Lead us in your ways and create us to be a people who bring you glory.

Spirit Power

Zechariah 4: 6

This is the word of the Lord . . ., ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

Last week we spent a little time with the prophet Habakkuk, and he taught us about partnering with God and not being prideful. Habakkuk told us that leaning on our own strength, might and power, is a result of a prideful soul, a soul which is not right within us. The good news was that our Father has prepared a way for us to renew our souls and make them right. It is about immersing ourselves in Him and part of Him is His Word. That means to bathe ourselves, be baptized in the Father and the Son, since Jesus is the Word and nothing happens apart from him.

Today we are reminded that the power we need was never meant to come from our hands or even our own minds. Our strength and our success is in Him, more specifically in His Spirit. We are to work, think, walk and even breathe by God’s Spirit. We know that anything we do that is not done by and in faith is unpleasing to God. Only by faith in the Son are we justified and it is that faith which guides us.

God sent His Son to redeem us and to establish His family. Then Jesus sent us the Spirit to walk beside us and show us the way. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the way and that is where the Spirit always leads. The Son is the way to the Father. So all culminates in the Father and in His love. It is His master plan. A plan by which we were saved from eternal damnation, made heirs to His riches, given success here in the earth, and restored to Him as a body, whole and perfect. However, it is only in walking with and in the Spirit of God that we function as ordained. Anything not done in the Spirit, by faith, is frankly, an abomination. That sounds harsh but that word keeps ringing through my mind as I write.

An abomination because it is by our works, which is repugnant to God. When we look to our hands, education and wisdom, eschewing God’s gifts, it is to make ourselves Gods. This is the very thing which caused the downfall of humanity. We feign to know good from bad, right from wrong. We decide what is right to do, making ourselves righteousness judges. This is the way that leads away from God. In every sense, it is idolatry because we set ourselves up on the throne of our lives. We succeed or fail by our might, rather than recognizing the true God. Sure, we go to church on Sunday and pay homage to Him but how distasteful must that be to Him when we served ourselves and our needs all week long. We get up each morning and decide what we will do that day when God clearly tells us that it is not by our minds or decisions that we are to labor. We are supposed to turn to Him. We are to trust Him as our superior in intellect, wisdom, and experience. He is supreme in every way but most of us have yet to learn that worship is walking in His ways rather than by our sight and might.

Everything we do is a Spiritual matter, I mean right down to pumping gas into your car. You never know what might be on the mind of the Spirit. He might want to tell you that pump isn’t safe and to go to a different one. There is no part of our day that is not rightfully lived in the Spirit of God. We are to be baptized into Him as we are in the Father and Son, immersed fully in him.

It’s a simple thing to do but it must be done in faith. Simply ask the Spirit to come to you and take up his proper place in your life. Ask him to be your leader, teacher and constant companion. Invite him to be your business partner and your closest confidant. Ask him to come live in you and to be with you. Ask him to fill you to overflowing and to be with you always. There is no one with more power yet it is tempered with the greatest compassion. He is the breath of God, the very breath in your lungs. That’s what the Bible says about him.

How close is your breath? That is how close you are to hold the Spirit of God. Every breath is to be spent with him. We have had little actual contact with the Spirit. We’ve not taken today’s scripture to heart fully. Let’s change that. Make this the day that you invite God’s Spirit to be the power in your life. Relinquish your control and gain true freedom in him. Not by might, nor by power but by God’s Spirit. Let that be your calling card.

The Voice of the Lord

Psalm 29: 3 – 9

The voice of the Lord: is powerful, is majestic, breaks the cedars, hews out flames of fire, shakes the wilderness, makes the deer to calve and strips the forests bare.

This psalm begins by directing us to ascribe to the Lord the glory and strength due His name. In other words, attribute to Him, give Him credit for, the power and might of who He is. David is reminding us, that although Yahweh is our love and Father, even our most intimate friend, He is still God Almighty, with the emphasis on All Mighty. The Passion Translation reads, “Be in awe before his majesty. Be in awe before such power and might!” It is a good reminder that even in our intimacy, there can still be reverence.

God is closer to you than a friend, closer than your relatives or even your spouse. I encourage you to call Him Dad and to bask in that close, personal relationship. We do so, though, not minimizing how enormous He is. In other words, in order to have a very close kinship with the Father, we do not need to make Him smaller. The task is to raise our self-image up to His throne room not to bring Him down to human size. He sees us enthroned with Him. The dichotomy of God’s power and majesty and His willingness to abide with us can be challenging to the human mind. As much as I wish for you to embrace Him as your own Dad and your very best friend, the thing which makes this so marvelous and miraculous is that He is so powerful, beyond comprehension powerful. That is your own Father and He doesn’t need to be small to be with you.

Sometimes I think we conceptualize God as just another person whom we can accept or reject. We speak with such arrogance. It is laughable at times when I hear people talk about Him. “I don’t believe in Him, there is no God,” you hear people say. However, there is coming a day when He will show Himself and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, the first born of the Almighty. People will kneel in awe and the splendor of our Father.

Did you ever wonder why God whispers to us? He is so powerful that the mere sound of His voice shakes the earth. If He were to yell, I suppose the earth would disintegrate. There is a comic book character named Black Bolt. Black Bolt is the leader of the Inhumans. He is so powerful that he can’t speak around mortals. His voice is destructive in its might. I wonder if Stan Lee got his inspiration for this character from today’s psalm. If God walked the earth today and spoke with a loud voice, there would be no one on the planet who would doubt any longer. The trees would be stripped bare, the mountains would crumble and rivers would change course. We have this arrogant attitude that we get to deny God’s existence, but a day is coming when we will see Him as He is. You will be overjoyed but others will quake in fear. You will marvel at His beauty while the foolish will cower. God won’t have to do anything threatening, and that is not His nature, but His mere presence will reduce the doubters to quivering piles of jelly. His voice will cause them to shudder at their own mortality.

When He comes, He is coming to gather all the sheep into His arms as a mother. He will show you incomparable love. However, don’t doubt for a moment that He could speak and end this earth and all life upon it. You shouldn’t fear because He is love and made all of this for you to enjoy. I wonder, though, if we might show Him a little more respect, acknowledge that for all His might He is so very gentle with us. Even to those who speak poorly of Him, He is kind and generous. He has withheld judgment because humanity couldn’t survive His voice, much less His judgment. He is doing all just so every human being can avoid judgment. God wants everyone in heaven. He didn’t sacrifice His son so that people would go to hell. He sacrificed him so we would all end up in heaven with Him. So, don’t worry about your unsaved family and friends. Pray for them. Show them God’s love for them but don’t forget how powerful our God is. One day He will speak and the earth shall bow its knees before Him and then all people will know that God reigns supreme and that Jesus is Lord of all.

Power and Might

Daniel 11: 32

And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know God will display strength and take action.

God is not raising up a generation of weaklings. He has called us in strength and in the glory of his dear son. There will come those who will lead the weak spirited away. He will trick them by the eloquence of his speech but those who know the Word of God will recognize the lies. 

Jesus was tried by the tempter (See Matthew 4: 1 – 11). He tried to trick Jesus too but Jesus knew the Word. He could not be led astray. He defeated the devil’s scheme’s then and ever since. We learn from Daniel that because we are called according to Jesus’ victory, we too can display strength and we can take action.

Do not be fooled by those who come to you in smoothness of speech. Check their fruit. Are they demonstrating Galatians 5: 22 fruit? If not, step away. You are not required to be friends with everyone; you are only required to love them. Secondly, prepare yourself now for the trickster. We already know he is waiting like a prowling lion, just looking for someone he can devour (1 Peter 5: 8). Feed on the Word daily so that you will recognize truth from the lie and can protect yourself and your family. Adam and Eve didn’t abide in the Word and they were deceived. Look where that brought us all.

Be strong in the might of the Lord and in the power of His Word.