The Sweetest Frame

You know the song, The Solid Rock,

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
What is the frame? Did you ever wonder? It makes sense in the song without having to explain it. Like, intuitive sense. But if one is going to explain it, how would one?

The word is used in Psalm 103:14,
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

I looked up the word frame in Hebrew. The word is yetser. It means-

a form, framing, purpose…
of what is framed in the mind …
is common in sense of impulse: of good and bad tendency in man.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says of the Psalm above,

For he knoweth our frame – Our formation; of what we are made; how we are made. That is, he knows that we are made of dust; that we are frail; that we are subject to decay; that we soon sink under a heavy load. This is given as a reason why he pities us – that we are so frail and feeble, and that we are so easily broken down by a pressure of trial.

He remembereth that we are dust – Made of the earth. Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19. In his dealings with us he does not forget of what frail materials he made us, and how little our frames can bear. He tempers his dealings to the weakness and frailty of our nature, and his compassion interposes when the weight of sorrows would crush us. Remembering, too, our weakness, he interposes by his power to sustain us, and to enable us to bear what our frame could not otherwise endure. Compare the notes at Isaiah 57:16.

So in the song, frame could mean frame of mind, or our frame like our infrastructure. It could mean our nature, the good and bad tendencies in man.

I dare not trust my sweetest tendency
I dare not trust my frame of mind
I dare not trust my own self

Like I said, makes intuitive sense!

Trust only Jesus…nothing else

frame

Justified and made righteous

Here, in 90 seconds Pastor Gabe explains what justification is. When he explained that it is the legal declaration of God as to the pardon of all our sins AND the credit to our account the righteousness of Christ, it made me think of the verse from Luke regarding the return of an unclean spirit. But first, take a listen to Pastor Gabe’s explanation:

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:24-26).

Without the imputation of righteousness to our account and the indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit, we would be damned and punished forever. We can stave off obvious sin and project a certain morality in keeping our ‘house’ empty for a while, but sin soon creeps back in to take over again. (Genesis 4:7), We can’t help it, our sin-nature demands it.

An empty house is ripe for possession again. And as we see in the verse, the unholy spirits return. But they return in force and the state of the person is worse than before.

We always remember how great and wonderful it is that not only are we forgiven of our sins, but our Lord gave us HIS righteousness, without which, we would simply be either a suppurating cauldron of putrid sin, or a temporarily swept house waiting to become the cauldron of sin once again. His purity and righteousness is fresh, clean, and given in grace to His people. Thank you Lord for justifying Your chosen sinners!

glory

Spiritual warfare is real

This post appeared on The End Time on May 24, 2011.

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I was at some friends’ house, and after dinner we played a Bible trivia game. Here is one of the questions:

“How many angels are named in the Bible?” At first blush the answer seems easy. Can you guess? Pause.

Answer: Three. Michael, Gabriel, Lucifer. Most of the teams gave the answer as two, Michael and Gabriel. Those two are easy to remember, but we forget Lucifer was an angel, who is that old serpent, satan.

Angels have many jobs.

Luke 1:19 we read of the messenger angel Gabriel-

The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.”

In Daniel 10:13 we read of Michael the warrior angel, who is an archangel-

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

Paul reminds us of the hierarchies of angels, both good and fallen:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him (Colossians 1:16)

Ephesians 6 is the famous chapter where Paul reminds us that we are in enemy territory here on earth, that the territory has a hierarchy, and that we are always at war, (whether we know it or not):

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

We often forget about Lucifer as an angel, his name means star of the morning, or shining one. Isaiah laments Lucifer’s fall from the high holy place of guarding God’s throne, to his low position of evil rebel destined for the hell (Matthew 25:41).

Hebrews and Revelation together show us that about a third of the angels fell with Satan. (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 12:3-9). Hebrews also reminds us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2).

If angels visit us and engage with us on a personal and even intimate level (‘hospitality’ translated, “in one’s home”, “receive as a guest”) then who is to say that we are always visited by the good angels? Sometimes we are visited by the bad ones, too. Probably more than sometimes, probably we’re visited by them often.

I was in another friend’s home, and I mentioned that a pastor’s latest series is on spiritual warfare. She replied, “Oh! I don’t even like to think about spiritual warfare!” I was stunned by this, she being a seasoned Christian. I remarked that we are at war whether we like to think about it or not.

Not only are we in war against the principalities and powers and rulers of darkness, but we are war against our own sin nature!

Because of sin, the earth is a battlefield. Satan and his angels battle for souls every day. 1 John 5:19 tells us that the entire earth is under the jurisdiction, so to speak, of the evil one. In Luke 4:5-6 satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, and in one of the temptations, offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus didn’t rebuke satan for making that claim.

In Ephesians, Paul tells us to pray and to wear our spiritual armor. 1 Timothy 1:18 Paul tells Timothy to prepare for the battle. 2 Corinthians 10:2-4 describes the kind of war we Christians are in. There is war-like language all throughout the New Testament, referring to the fact that we ARE in a war. It is a spiritual war, but a war that has eternal consequences for each participant.

I was struck by the two incidents – the Bible trivia question about Lucifer where it was so easy to forget he is really an angel, and the Christian who dismissed spiritual warfare topics as something unsavory she doesn’t like to think about.

Christian, be aware that we are dwelling in enemy territory, and this is not our home. Our own flesh and blood is an enemy.

We are unwanted intruders on earth. We are under attack all the time. Not daily, but frequently and constantly. We are attacked by demons, by our own sin, and by the curse of the world. We are in a war and that war will not be concluded for us individually until we die or are raptured. That war for all of us as a body in Christ will not end until after the 1000 year Kingdom when satan will be let out of the pit, will foment one last war and he will be squashed and sent to the lake of fire forever.

But remember an even greater truth. Unlike every other warrior who ever fought in a war, we know the outcome prior to the war’s end! We may be battling, but “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4).

Jesus won the war for us, on our behalf and in obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus is the victor, and through Him we win the war. So, battle on in confidence, but never forget we are in a war.

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Further reading

Sometimes the subject of spiritual warfare draws out people who teach wacky theories or treat the subject either to lightly or too heavily. Here are some credible resources on the subject I can recommend

Truth or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare, book by Jim Osman

John MacArthur sermon series: Spiritual Warfare: Fighting to Win

Ligonier article: Our Ancient Foe

How are men born again? What about the Father drawing us?

Salvation is not of our will, nor our decision, nor our works. It is through the word of God, which is incorruptible, and the work of the Spirit, Who is incorruptible.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. (1 Peter 1:23)

If salvation was our decision, can corrupt become incorrupt? Can we who are thoroughly corrupt then incorrupt ourselves? Never!

Can other corrupt men declare us incorrupt? Can those who are perishable declare us imperishable?

What a ghastly thought.

The Word of God will never fade away. (Matthew 24:35). It is imperishable, incorruptible, because its Author is. Salvation is by grace from above, from the incorrupt One.

Because salvation comes by the incorruptible Word of God as 1st Peter states, it must come from God Himself, not of man, works, or decisions.

Of the process of salvation, The scripture says, No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them (John 6:44a).

The initial work of God is to draw men toward Him. The actual moment of salvation (“Justification”) occurs in but a moment, just as long as it takes God to declare the person justified in His sight. But the process of drawing, is something a reader emailed me about.

A reader emailed with the following question. I’m so pleased to receive good questions like this, and more pleased she sought biblical support in her quest to answer it. I admit I was stumped for a while too. I raised the question at our Bible Discussion Group, researched the Word, listened to good sermons. Her question is below and my response follows.

Q. Does God draw people to Himself (effectually call) over a duration of time (even years) or instantly? Or both?
Some people at the Bible study I attend will say things like, “Oh yes, well that was the Holy Spirit working on his heart.” Yet, the person they refer to wasn’t actually saved until years later, accordingly. I am having a hard time finding biblical support for this. So, I was just wondering if you could help shed some light on this for me. I greatly value any wisdom you can shine my way.

God’s regeneration happens in but a moment, as fast as when an earthy judge bangs the gavel and the verdict is rendered. That’s called justification and it happens quickly. (Romans 3:28, 5:1). From what I understand, if I’m understanding correctly, the question is, what happens before the actual moment of justification AKA salvation? Can there be a lengthier time of drawing as the verse in John 6:44 says of drawing men?

This brings us to the parable of the soils. Jesus outlined 4 kinds of soils; thorny, hard, rocky, and good. The soil is the heart. (Matthew 13:19). If we read the first three soils are hard and will not allow a Gospel seed to be planted, and the fourth is the soil that reaps a saved soul, then that soil is soft. The question remains, is it always soft? Does it get softer as the time for hearing the Gospel approaches? Does the Lord close the ears and eyes to the things of Jesus until the time for salvation draws near? How close to the time of salvation does God prepare the heart for the Gospel seed?

Though the following doctrine is hard for people to accept sometimes, whosoever will be saved is already set in God’s economy. Before the foundation of the world He wrote down the names of the people He will save. (Ephesians 1:4).

From my study of the Parable of the Soils, it seems that whatever soil you are is what soil you remain. If you’re hard soil, you always will be and are not destined for salvation. If you’re good soil, you’re good and will be saved at some point. However, since we know all people are thoroughly depraved, being a good soil does not mean one is a good person. We are still sinners. It simply means God has plowed the ground to prepare for the Gospel seed.

Where the soil is prepared by God, the results are staggering. And while we’re talking about soil here, what does that refer to? Matthew 13:19 tells us that the soil is the heart in the parallel passage in Matthew, the soil is the heart. So the only way that there’s going to be good soil is that it’s divinely prepared by God, chosen, prepared, the Spirit of God has come and done conviction. The heart is made ready and there’s a response. A Diagnosis of the Soils, Part 1

Because the soil represents the heart, when we look at a person we do not know if the Gospel that we share with them will plant and germinate or be rejected immediately. We simply do not know the heart so we share the Gospel with all.

How long before the moment of justification the Lord draws a person, is a question I cannot answer. He could be working on a person by drawing them for a long time, or He could justify them all at once when they hear the Word. I suspect it differs from person to person and it all fits into His master plan, which is perfect. The amazing part is that He draws us at all. We are putrid, wretched, filthy, mucky people and He draws us to His perfect and pure bosom, cleans us, and makes us co-heirs. I’m grateful He drew me to Himself, however long it took. I know you are too!

thorns

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Further Reading

Martin Luther on Gods’ hardening and softening the heart

Got Questions on drawing people to salvation

 

Worthless Sheba

Today’s reading, 2 Samuel 20:1-

“Now a worthless fellow happened to be there whose name was Sheba…”

The Bible is very honest about the people whose lives are recorded. John the Baptist the greatest man who ever lived (Mt 11:11). Noah, Daniel, Job declared righteous men, (‎Ez 14:14). David, a man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22). Mary found favor with God. (Luke 1:30).

We’d all aspire to lives that, if they were recorded, would be declared favorable, righteous, great. Poor Sheba, eternally declared “worthless”!

I am a sinful and flawed woman. Only in You I can do something. (John 15:5). Lord, let my life in you ever be tending toward the righteous and not the worthless!

“Letter to a disappointed graduate”

Graduating from college is a wonderful accomplishment and a high point in a young person’s life. It’s a rite of passage. It also is a major life transition point for a young person. They are no longer a child nor even a youth but now considered fully an adult. With that, comes adult expectations. Often the graduate is at a loss with how to maintain equilibrium during this hectic and heady time. Sometimes they drift aimlessly for a while before getting their footing. Others drift emotionally.

Christian graduates may be harboring secret feelings of shame for their behavior during the college years. Perhaps they feel ashamed of their pornography viewing habits, their laziness in studying, squandering mom and dad’s money, mishandled relationships, or other things. With passage to adulthood comes adult feelings and awarenesses.

Here is a wonderfully written letter from Samuel D. James called Letter to a Disappointed Graduate addressing those feelings.

I suspect his opening paragraph has meaning for more grads than we know.

Dear new college graduate,

I’m supposed to start off by saying “Congratulations,” but I doubt you want to hear that right now. If I’ve understood you correctly, today doesn’t feel like a victory to you. You say you’ve wasted most of the last few years. You’ve say you’ve been selfish, lazy, and unkind. You say for too long you were hung up on pornography and video games, and that your graduation today is mostly due to the kindness and forbearance of professors and the intervention of family and friends. Today, you say, feels good, but as you watch your classmates celebrate their high GPAs, their entrance in grad programs, and their lives that look way more fruitful than yours, all you can think about is how behind you are.

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This week we received an email from our Superintendent of Schools, forwarded from the Deputy Superintendent of Policy and External Affairs; Georgia Department of Education. It involves the suicide program on Netflix called 13 Reasons Why. Though the missive was aimed at educators who work with younger children, I think the information can be applied to Graduates who may not be transitioning as well as we think into adulthood. Paired with Mr James’ letter, I offer this information as a plea to be aware of our young people. The GA Deputy Superintendent’s letter follows:

As you may be aware, Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why will debut on Netflix tomorrow, May 18, 2018. The fictional series, based on Jay Asher’s book of the same title, explores the suicide of a teen, with the Season 1 finale showing the suicide in graphic detail over a 3-minute scene. As with other Netflix series, all episodes are released at once with viewers frequently watching a season from beginning to end in the same day.

After the Season 1 release of 13 Reasons Why last year, the web-search phrase “how to commit suicide” rose 26% above what would normally have been expected for that time according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Internal Medicine). The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) sent a notice to their members across the country on how to talk about the show and posted Considerations for Educators online. More recently, NASP shared Information Regarding the Upcoming Release of 13 Reasons Why, Season 2.

You may be interested in some of the information contained in the following articles that were tweeted this morning by Safe Schools Georgia (@GaDOESafeSchool) as well as Peer-to-Peer Suicide Prevention PSAs that were developed by Voices for Georgia’s Children, GBI Child Fatality Review Panel, and members of the Georgia Department of Education’s Suicide Prevention Task Force:

As 13 Reasons Why Returns, Schools Try to Help Students Who Are Thinking Of Suicide

School Officials Issuing Warnings Ahead of 2nd Season of ’13 Reasons Why’

Also, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities offers the Georgia Crisis and Access Line which is available 24/7 for any type of mental health emergency: 1-800-715-4225.

Public Service Announcements: “Georgia’s Children in Crisis”
30 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621210

45 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621204​ ​​

60 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621192

90 second PSA: https://vimeo.com/254621179

Long Peer-to-Peer PSA (17 minutes, 27 seconds): https://vimeo.com/254621215

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As we see with the increase in violence and school shootings, we know that our youth are vulnerable and living with pressures we as older adults never did, nor can really conceive. Let’s protect our children and emerging adults. Pray for them, have open eyes to danger signs for emotional instability, and above all, be a Holy Spirit filled non-hypocritical example for them. We are their islands of peace and safety in this troubled world.