Secret Councils

Yesterday, Jerry was sitting on the screened back porch, listening to Rush Limbaugh’s comments about the Presidential Inauguration. I sat with him a few minutes. Mr. Limbaugh stated that there is a bureaucracy that operates in Washington. Seemingly there are those who hold no public office that control everything. We imagine that the wealthy and influential meet in secret chambers to plan their schemes.

We remember that Haman, in the Book of Esther, unknowingly planned his own hanging.

There is the record of God’s council spoken in Acts 4:24-32. The same council that instigated Jesus’ death brought in Peter and John to stop them from speaking of the salvation that God had worked through their scheme (Acts 24:28). After reporting what was said to them, God’s people prayed, and “the place was shaken;” they were “filled with the Holy Ghost” and “spoke the Word of God with boldness.”

Lightnings, Thunderings, and An Earthquake

And there is the reference in Revelation 8:4-5 of the prayers of the saints.

“And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.”the-white-house-1203537

There are two councils here on earth. From the Fall of man, the antithesis has been ongoing. God continues to rule under His covenant of grace, by His own Word and truth. Men, under the power of Satan, rule the other council, according to their plans. But, even this one has always been under God’s sovereign control.

“The Lord has prepared his throne in the heavens;
and his kingdom rules over all.”
Psalm 103:19

He calls us, as His saints, to meet in His secret chambers to offer up prayers so that His council may be made known here on earth (Ephesians 6:18). Places can be shaken, lightnings and thunderings can wake even the most powerful in our nation and the world. We must pray, expecting great things, even an earthquake ~ for our salvation and His glory.

Gracious Father, you have taught us to know you and your Almighty power over all things. We believe that you are able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. Unto you be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. In Jesus’ name, whom you have given all authority and power, we pray, we thank you and praise you. Amen.
Image

The Authority of Contentment

Why is contentment so rare in human creatures? It seems that the status quo, even for God’s children, is brokenness. This condition is becoming more and more acceptable as a means of relating to others.

We can all agree that we live in a world of oppression. The world is really not a fit place to live, but we, as God’s people have a directive. God set the mandate for us before time began. (Ephesians 1:4) I heard recently, “We are a distinctive people.” But, this is not a new statement. This is the  Biblical perspective for the Christian church.

God, our heavenly Father is the authority of His kingdom. He rules in holiness, in love, and grace in the lives of His people. By His power He has birthed a family for Himself, growing us and conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ, His Son, who is the first of many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

He came in Jesus to work in us a new life, compatible with Himself. He is teaching us here what His kingdom is like, training us for eternity with Him. By His authority He commands us by His Word what is expected in His kingdom. We will look at four of these in this post ~ those that begin with what we are to “BE.”

We began this series by describing Contentment as a supernatural state of “being.” We will add here that it is part of the legacy of God’s kingdom.

“Being” a joint-heir with Christ has many components. Each part is derived from the same source of God’s grace. The authority that commands us to “BE” is the source that works each part in us. All characteristics of the Christian life are distinctive in that they are beyond our natural abilities. Andrew Murray states in Waiting on God, “what He commands is a promise of what He will do.”

We will look at His commands to “be holy,” “be glad,” “be still,” and “be content.”

We will see how Contentment fits and flows from holiness, gladness, and stillness, and why He commands these for His people.

“Be Holy”

We begin in the Old Testament in Leviticus to see God’s separation of a people for Himself, then in the New Testament the repetition in 1 Peter to those who are separated and made holy in Christ.

In Leviticus 11:44-45 and Leviticus 20:7 we see that He has brought the Israelites out of bondage. He separated them from the land of Egypt, “to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” He is holy, and makes His people holy.

In 1 Peter 1:13-16 he quotes the same command to God’s people in our day. This section of Peter’s letter is titled, “Called to be holy.” Please read this part of his letter to the Jewish Christians. What I find interesting in both the Old and New covenants is the statement, “You shall be holy.” In agreement, we consecrate ourselves, with the mind-set that He will do the work in us. (See also 1 Peter 3:15)

“Be Glad”

Psalm 32:11 is the last verse of the Psalm that begins with the word “Blessed.” I will not take away from your gladness by telling you what is in this Psalm. If you are serious about living a contented life you must read Psalm 32 for yourself. Reading the whole Psalm gives us the understanding of why we are to “be glad.” I would suggest reading it every day for a month and see what happens. Perhaps you will establish The Glad Rule in your home.

“Be Still”

Psalm 32 and Psalm 46 are short Psalms, but packed with the context from which we find memorable verses. Psalm 46 begins with, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” Reading this Psalm to verse 10 gives us understanding of why He instructs us to “Be still.”

“Be Content”

If we have done our homework through the first three subjects of “being,” we will come to a better understanding of this distinctive of Contentment.

The writer of Hebrews 13:5, like Peter, quotes from the Old Testament (Joshua 1:5).

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

a-my-countenanceFrom the first statement of God’s authority in our Contentment, “I am your God” to “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” we have the reason for our Contentment. When we know Him, He will be our Contentment, here and for eternity. Contentment is wrapped up in His written word and His Living Word, Jesus Christ as He works it in us.

Three things we need to remember that carry through this series.

  1. Divine Contentment is supernatural, possible only for God’s people.
  2. It is the result of relationship between God our heavenly Father and His children.
  3. He will teach us and show us what He is doing in us.

The training in the distinctive of the Christian is a life-long process that fits us for Heaven and eternity with our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

This world is not just a wilderness, and a battleground of brokenness, but the place that our heavenly Father proves His authorship, power, victory, and majesty through the lives of His people.

Gracious Father, we praise you that you have chosen a people to be holy unto you, a distinctive family that you are training to be your image-bearers. Fill us with your Holy Spirit to do the work that you command and promise for us as your children. Give the world a different image of your kingdom as we love and reach out to those who are in adversity with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His name I pray. Amen.

Echo of Good Tidings

 0681a_christmasimage_2014 This good news was announced on earth to a few shepherds by a single angel, after which a multitude of angels rejoiced, in praise “to God in the highest.” One of the greatest events on earth took place that night.

Can we imagine what was going on in heaven? Could it be that after thousands of years of planning and waiting for this day heaven was quiet? 

Joseph’s purpose and greatness in this life was to serve as Jesus’ earthly father.  He attended the birth and accepted Jesus as his own son. But God, His heavenly Father begat Him for an even greater purpose. His physical birth was the result of the heavenly Father’s desiring, and siring, to fulfill all His promises of redemption for His people of every race and nation.

Would not He and all of heaven been in a holy expectancy in anticipation of this event with its celebration and proclamation?

While the people of Bethlehem may have been sleeping and the world clueless to God’s plans during this historical event, can we not think that God, Jesus’ heavenly Father was present, with the attendance of the angels, for the delivery of His own Son? Would not Gabriel who had announced the conception to Mary been present? And might Michael have been there to keep the enemy at bay? This is only speculation, but surely there was much going on that was not recorded for us.

If “the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner that repents,” imagine what all the heavenly hosts were doing that night when the Redeemer, who has brought that means of repentance, was born.

A few were privileged to experience the reverberation that night—from the heavenly Father came the proclamation of new life here on earth, as promised from the beginning, and prophesied through the ages. The shepherds heard, believed, and came to see “that which had come to pass,” and glorified and praised God for all they had heard and seen.

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”
Luke 2:17

The echo continues, as it has for thousands of years. God, the Father is still proclaiming the majesty of His Son over all things, and His love for all His children. For those who hear, Christ is conceived in the heart, bringing faith and repentance. The heavenly hosts are still rejoicing as God, the Father, through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit give true life ~eternal life ~ to new sons and daughters.

We do not know what happened the night of Jesus’ birth other than what has been recorded in His Word, and passed down through the centuries. We celebrate the season of this birth in many different ways according to our culture and traditions. There are many reverberations heard and experienced throughout the world that have nothing to do with the purpose and truth of the birth of the Son of God. But, in a few, from the hearts of those to whom this truth has been revealed there is an echo resounding, not from speculation or imagination, but from the Father, and Christ, Himself.

He is present, and the heavenly hosts rejoice with each new birth. He has made us His children, His family, His people, His church, His echo here on earth, heard not just for one season or another, but for all time and eternity.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace with whom he is pleased.”
Luke 2:14

“Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen.”
Hebrews 13:21

Dear heavenly Father, as you planned that your only begotten Son would be the first of many brethren, bringing many sons to glory, let us gratefully echo the good tidings that the angels announced that holy night.  Fill us with the Spirit of the life of Christ, so that forever He will be glorified in you and us.  In His name we pray. Amen.

Related Article: Angels From the Realms of Glory
Image

Praying For Our Nation ~ Week 5

“In the fifth petition we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins, which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by His grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.” Shorter Catechismunknown-1

Forgiveness is a revolving grace that begins with God, working His love and forgiveness in us, and through us to others. Subsequently, we can confidently ask for forgiveness for our own indebtedness to Him, which is more than anyone could owe us. This grace is characteristic of God’s people, those who share space in His kingdom. How can we not love and forgive, when our Father has forgiven us?

Is there bitterness in your heart toward God or another person? Resentment is the spirit of oppression, and the enemy’s greatest weapon, working from within to destroy.

The condition of any single life, family, or nation, can be summed up in the total of our grievances and vengeance against others.

Where is Our Freedom?

We are concerned about our freedom here in America. We are already in bonds to the oppressive spirit that rules in the hearts and minds of men. What we see from those who desire to govern this nation is the same spirit of this nation. We are in need of God’s intervention by His Spirit to bring us to repentance, to lead us in truth and righteousness; to overcome this spirit within us.

Our nation and the world will remain under threat until we learn to live in love and care for our heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, and each other. Let us consider and examine our own hearts to know for sure that we have trusted the heavenly Father’s love and forgiveness for us.

Gracious Father,  forgive us of our rebellion, our pride, and covetousness; forgive us our anxieties and unbelief. Forgive us our discontent and impatience; forgive us our neglect and slothfulness. We need you to examine our hearts, to try our thoughts, to know if there is any bitterness that we hold against you or any other person. Reveal your love and forgiveness to us by the power of your Holy Spirit. Bring us to repentance, that we may trust you in all things, to live in peace with you and our fellowman. Heal hearts in this nation and other nations by the peace of your Son, in whose name I pray. Amen.

“O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God.” Daniel 9:19

Image

Praying For Our Nation ~ Week 4

give-us-this-day“In the fourth petition we pray that of God’s free gifts we may recieve a competent portion of the good things of this life and enjoy His blessing with them.” Shorter Catechism

As one of the most affluent nations in history, Americans live daily in the abundance of things that other nations only imagine. We have all the technical devices, all that we want to entertain us, and more food than we need ~ yet Jesus taught us, His people,  to pray for our “daily bread.”  We understand that our prayers are not just for us and our family, but for all people. We are reminded that He taught us to “seek first the kingdom of God our Father, and His righteousness”  before anything else, believing that He would supply all our physical needs.

As with the other petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, this one alludes to our trusting God our heavenly Father, whose name, kingdom and will are first and over all things in heaven and on earth, so that all our hope for all things is in Him.

Dear Father, as we anticipate a transition of leadership in a few weeks, let us as your children continue to examine our hearts and our faith. Show us your leading for all things. Make us to know that all that we need comes from you.

Even as we ask you to give us (all of us) our daily bread, give us understanding that we need not fear what man can do, nor hope that any man or woman can do more than you enable them to do. Again, I ask that you enable us to encourage others, and that you will grow the faith of all your people as we see you supplying all our needs.  More than physical food, enable us to understand the more needful, spiritual food that comes only from your Holy Word. Turn us to the truth and power of your Word, that we may know the abundant life that you promise us in Christ, your Son.screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-2-46-50-pm
Pour your Holy Spirit on us; give us a hunger for your Word; draw us to your Word for all that you desire for us.

Let us enjoy you and your blessings today, without anxiety of what we may need tomorrow. Show us our extravagance, and how to live simply in obedience, confidence, and contentment in you, so that we may share with others what you so graciously pour out upon us.

Make us the answer to the prayers of others who are in need, for the spirit, soul, and body.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

image

Praying For Our Nation ~ Week 3


our-father-which-art-in-heaven
supreme-courtThis week we want to meditate on and pray the third petition for us and our nation.

capital“What do we pray for in the third petition? In the third petition we pray, that God, by His grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.” Shorter Catechism

Dear Father, you teach us in your word that all secrets belong to you. We have learned that you have a secret will and a revealed will, which leaves all things in your hands.

As Jesus taught us, we pray that you reveal your will to us through your Word, and in time your secret will concerning the future of this nation. As we watch and wait to know who will be the next President of this country, open our hearts to your Word for us as your children, so that we may know and trust that all things work according to your will.

First, believing that we need you to work in us as your people, we pray that, as your will is done in heaven, we may know the rule of Christ over us and in the center of our lives, our families, and our churches. As the angels worship and adore Him, serving in obedience to Him, please move in our hearts to seek your will through a new, reviving, transforming work in us. Let Christ, through your church, be the light that is needed in this darkness.

Move the hearts of those who will rule this nation to know you and your will in their lives. Have mercy upon us as we place all our hope in you.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

A Year of Thanksgiving

1-Thessalonians-5_182014 was a year of humility. 2015 was a year of meditation.   Last year ended with Jerry in ICU after his heart attack, so he and I spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital. There were no fireworks ~ just the two of us with grateful hearts celebrating life and God’s blessings as another year was opened to us.

Before then there was no indication of where our concentration should be this year. But, we didn’t have to wait long. This has been a special year to be thankful, even in the middle of emergencies, the everyday perplexities and abnormalities of this life.

In our reading and meditation this week we spent time in one of Paul’s letters.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, I had to take the time to let these things sink in, again.

“Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

This is how I had to stack these. They rest together on the foundation that Christ laid for us. We understand that God, our Father planned through the life and the atoning work of His Son the means in this world for our rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving. This is not a natural thing.  We all know that in the middle of difficulties, thanksgiving is not our first thought. But, just as we learned in the year of humility, we first desire to do His will, realizing that it is possible with His Spirit supernaturally working in us.  We desire, we pray and continue to pray that He do His will, His work in us. Paul spoke to the Philippian church that it is God who works to will and do in us, according to His own pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) We have in Christ this relationship with Him, so as to know His will, and how, by His Spirit, He works it in us. In Christ, we are enabled to rejoice, to pray, and to be thankful.

Whatever the circumstances of this life, nothing is greater than what He has prepared for us in His Son. Through our study and meditation of His Word and the truths of Christ, He continues to grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, and through our circumstances to conform us to His image. (2 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:28-29)

Dear Father, you know how forgetful we are, and how prone we are to complain. Forgive us, and lead us as your people, your family, to be your image bearers.  Thank you for providing the means for us to rejoice, to pray, and be thankful in the middle of a chaotic world. By your Spirit, witness through us to others of your grace and glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Related article:  The Glad Rule