Posted in angels, praise

“Angel, thanks for nothing”

I’ve been stuck in one thought pattern for a while. I keep thinking about God creating the Universe. It took six days and He spoke it and it was so. More than just so, it was good. (Genesis 1:1-31). Now that’s enough to ponder right there, looking at the complexity of the world and the creativity of our God who spoke it all into existence within a few days!

 

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Then we disobeyed. Sin and shame and rebellion entered the world. It was all ruined, poisoned by our sin. God had to withdraw because His holiness cannot be near to sin (Habakkuk 1:13; Is 59:2)

Now the question I have been pondering, is really two part. The first part, I wonder why did God not erase us all and start over? He could have! He was grieved later that He had made us (Gen 6:6) and regretted it. It would have been so much easier for Him to do an etch-a-sketch and shake it all up and begin again. After all, it only would have taken a few days.

He didn’t wipe us out. I can’t get over that. Instead, in His love He chose a 6000 year travail that included more patience on His part that I can ever understand, more love, deaths of His apostles, and His own Son’s sacrifice in a grueling and horrific death!

The second thing I wonder is that even through all this, He still gives us as many gifts as He does. He gives us His son. He gives us salvation. He gives us the Holy Spirit. He gives us armor to resist satan, our enemy. He gives us the bible. And He gives us angels.

For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11)

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14)

See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

There are entire web pages devoted to the ministry of angels, why God created them, and what they do for God in their ministrations to us. There are way more verses about angels than I posted here. Suffice to say that I am continually slain by the outpouring of love from our Father in His gifts to us. Angels! Imagine! To guide and protect us. Minister to us. Serve us. I think of their their faces turned toward God as in the verse in Matthew, like racehorses at the gate, itching to get going and minister to us in His name, waiting for Him to say “GO!”

When I go through a day when nothing uneventful occurs, I thank the angels and the Father Who sent them. I drive an old car, I live in an old house, I dwell where tornadoes come, there are many things that could happen to me each day…that don’t. Don’t take that nothing for granted. It might be interesting if He allows when we get there, to see a rewind of our life’s movie to view the efforts to which our angels went in keeping us safe from harm.

The car accident you didn’t have. The tears you didn’t have to shed. The slip on the ice that didn’t happen.

If you have an uneventful day think of the angels the Lord sends to us in service to our needs. Nothing happened? Thank an angel!

 

This post first appeared on The End Time on March, 2011

Posted in encouragement, praise

Loving Jesus for Who He is

This was first published on The End Time on 8/20/2012

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16)

Hans Memling: Christ surrounded by musician angels

Our love for Him does not rest on positive circumstances. It does not rest on signs or gifts or prosperity or works. It rests on the simple fact that He is the only One deserving of all glory. He is the Sinless, Perfect One, and He came down to the dirt and the mire to life a life under submission to God and to die an unjust agonizing death so our sins would be propitiated.

Be humble in yourselves but boast of Jesus. Be meek in attitude but be confident in His promises. He is coming soon, and all promises will soon be fulfilled. Won’t it be awesome when we see Him as He is?

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

Posted in encouragement, glory, joy, praise

A Sinner’s Joy Unspeakable

Sunday, and every day, is a good time to think about our salvation. And I do. I’m forever grateful, fully knowing my sinfulness, reprobate mind, and hate toward God prior to salvation.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)

How humbling it is to know that though I hated Him, He loved me, and in His due time, He brought me to salvation.

I’m often struck by Jonathan Edwards’ sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. the image of the gossamer thread holding us aloft while we dangle unknowingly over the open flame of hell is a potent one. I wrote this poem, and then below my poem are the excerpts from which I took inspiration from Edwards sermon and his book religious Affections.

With all Due Gratitude Toward the One Who is Able to Save
By Elizabeth Prata

Sinking in sorrow and shame
A slender thread
was enough
to keep me from the flame

The slender thread
The blood of Christ
My sin my shame
His blood sufficed

He lifted me from the muck and mire
Forever free from damning hellfire
Turning to Him who loves and saves
Fearing never the darkest graves

The slender thread pierced my cold dead soul
To worship life’s eternal flame
In one fell stroke
Sin’s power no longer my yoke

What sweet refrain can I freely sing
What joy in Jesus forevermore,
His blood it banished
My sins from east to west, O King!

~EPrata

“There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” — By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, ~Jonathan Edwards,Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

After the Bad News, comes the Good News

1 Peter 1:8: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Their joy was full of glory. Although the joy was unspeakable, and no words were sufficient to describe it, yet something might be said of it, and no words more fit to represent its excellency than these, that it was full of glory; or, as it is in the original, glorified joy. In rejoicing with this joy, their minds were filled, as it were, with a glorious brightness, and their natures exalted and perfected. It was a most worthy, noble rejoicing, that did not corrupt and debase the mind, as many carnal joys do; but did greatly beautify and dignify it; it was a prelibation of the joy of heaven, that raised their minds to a degree of heavenly blessedness; it filled their minds with the light of God’s glory, and made themselves to shine with some communication of that glory. ~Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

Posted in encouragement, God, praise, prayer

Join your voice to the mighty song

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”

9And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:8-11)

From my Devotional this morning:

“As you pray this passage, consider that you are joining your voice to the voices of the mighty heavenly beings. You are taking up the words to the songs of heaven. Bless God in union with these spiritual powers.”

Did you ever stop to consider that when you pray in worship to God you are joining your voice to a mighty, heavenly throng in heaven? Jesus said He would not leave us alone, and He sent the Comforter who is the Holy Spirit. When you pray, you are not alone, either, but part of a chorus of beings and peoples who are doing the same, blessing God for Himself and Who He is.

Whether on earth or in heaven, praise to the Lord God Almighty is constant. Join your voice today to the song of praise for our Blessed Savior.

Posted in encouragement, praise, scripture photo, worship

Scripture photo: Love unmerited; and a praise to the Lord

I attended a church service today that was so sweet, so fresh, so fine, it sparked my thirst for seeing Jesus face to face all the more. Heaven’s worship is going to be so wonderful, I can hardly think on it!

The service began with five baptisms at the middle service. The pastor said there were several baptisms at the early service and several more would be conducted at the later service. Upon stating their desire for baptism, the prospective baptizees must complete a four week ‘new member’ course prior to being immersed. Baptism at this church is a serious thing, being a weighty ordinance of the Lord, and it is not undertaken casually. Therefore, knowing this, I celebrated their obedience into the faith all the more! I always tear up at baptisms, and this one was so beautiful I did have many more tears than usual. The elderly lady sitting next to me put her arm around me and said “Is one of them yours?” I said “No, but yes, they all are, now. They are my family.”

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

What a blessing to see new believers step forward and openly declare their intent to follow Jesus. Some of the baptizees were adults, some were college aged, some were younger. One man was an exchange student from China. What a wondrous display of the Holy Spirit’s move, to bring a person here to be baptized into the faith and when his school term ends, will return to plant his own seeds.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6)

After some good music, “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God almighty…” the pastor said that next Sunday the congregation will come together to vote on purchasing a house and 4-acre parcel adjacent to the existing 16-acre campus, it will complete their long-term vision. They believe they are meant to be in that spot, stay in that spot, and to grow disciples who in turn go out and plant churches in the neighborhood, county, state, nation, and the world. And they are doing this. They are committed to this biblical model, and it is a joy to see their obedience to it and the Spirit’s working through them in it.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

The sermon was at once Jesus-exalting and personally humbling as the pastor exposited the word of God and gravely and lovingly explained a parable from Matthew. What a balm to receive the word from a mature preacher who understands the scripture and is eager and sober in explaining it to his flock.

And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15)

After the sermon we had the privilege of praying over and commissioning a couple with their baby who are finishing their furlough and are returning to their mission field into East Asia. Anyone who wanted to pray aloud for this humble and obedient couple was invited forward to do so. Hands were laid upon them, tears were shed, and hope was ignited that many living in darkness would hear the Gospel and be saved.

And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. (Mark 5:19-20)

I know the state of the visible church and it is not good. But the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church that Jesus is building and where there IS a solid visible congregation, it is a beautiful thing.

Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:20-22)

The worship of the Holy head of our church, Jesus Christ, no matter where you are, is a life-affirming, sobering, joyful, glad thing, and something we have privilege to do each day for all eternity when we arrive en masse at New Jerusalem at the rapture. O blessed day.

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. (Psalm 111:1)

Posted in encouragement, God, praise, secret

Does God Keep Secrets?

He is God and He does have secrets.

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut 29:29.)

However, God also reveals things to us. Sometimes all at once, (creation) sometimes way before the time, (Daniel’s 70 weeks) and sometimes incrementally (Adam’s protoevangelium of the Messiah’s coming).

He is God and He does have secrets. Here are at least 4 things known only secretly to God (according to Gill’s Exposition of Deuteronomy 29:29)

1. Gill: particularly the times and seasons of their accomplishment, which he retains in his own power, Acts 1:6.

1a. Amos 3:7 says, “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” So by this we know that He keeps His own counsel until the time He decides to reveal His plans to us.

2. Gill: “There are many secret things in nature, which cannot be found out and accounted for by men, which the Lord only knows;”

2a. As anyone who follows physics knows, the more that men search for the secret to the universe and believe they have found it, (quarks! neutrinos! Bosons!) the more they know that the secret to His creation is unknowable. God has revealed his creation to us.

Romans 1:20a says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” So we can see His attributes revealed in creation but we cannot know fully the Mind that created it.

3. Gill: and there are many things in Providence, which are unsearchable, and past finding out by finite minds, especially the true causes and reasons of them;

3a. God will reveal Himself by making known His purposes and intentions for us if we diligently seek Him:

But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice. (Deuteronomy 4:29-30)

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)

He is a treasure and you have to seek, dig, find treasure. It does take some work on our behalf to open the secrets of the Bible He has revealed to us. Fortunately, He has sent a Helper to illuminate these to us when we do seek!

Alternately, Parables were open secrets designed to illuminate insights about God and His kingdom to those who have the mind of God and remain hidden in plain sight from those at enmity with Him. In addition, Job searched for a purpose to the things happening to him, but as Gill said, there are many things in Providence which are unsearchable. Yet, though His purpose for troubling Job was never revealed to Job, God revealed His purpose for Job’s trial to us.

4. Gill: and there are many things relating to God himself, which remain secret with him; But those things which are revealed to us are revealed forever.

4a. Amen!

Some thoughts about God, our precious Jesus who came to seek and save the lost, make Himself known to us, and to bring us to His abode when the (secret) time is ready. Here is praise for our knowable/unknowable God:

O Lord My God, You Are Very Great
Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. (Psalm 104:1-4)

Posted in children, encouragement, immanence, praise, transendence

From the mouths of babes: I’m taught a lesson on transcendence and immanence

The Graphics Fairy

While a boy was using scissors to cut his Christmas tree project, he was being very slow but very painstaking. He wanted to be exact. And to do a good job. So while the rest of the kids had moved on to the ornaments and coloring and going fast, the boy was still plodding along.

When he got done, he held up his tree and said, “I’m a good cutter!”
I said, “Yes. You are a good cutter!”
“Jesus teaches me. He is in my head teaching me how to do it.”
“What does He say to you in your head when He teaches you?”
“He don’t say nothing. He’s magic. Like, when there was a storm, he said STOP and just like that, a rainbow! He helps me.”

Jesus is very present with this boy and in this boy. He speaks of Jesus often, but has never talked about his relationship with Jesus before.

The Graphics Fairy

And they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Luke 18:17)

The boy talks about Him as He actually is- a friend and a helper, as if Jesus was here and right next to him. Which He is. Adult Christians lose that.

When we paint or make a Christmas gift or a craft and put the finishing touches on it, someone may say “That looks wonderful. You did a good job!” Do we say “Jesus directed my steps and it is with His wisdom/strength/help that I made this”?

The boy praised Jesus for His very present help.
The boy testified of Jesus and worshiped Him.
The boy acknowledged his need for help in even the smallest of things.
The boy exalted the transcendent Creator Jesus by recounting His powerful miracle but at the same time praised His presence, Jesus’ immanence.

GotQuestions explains transcendence and immanence.

The Graphics Fairy

Transcendence (God exists outside of space and time) and immanence (God is present within space and time) are both attributes of God. He is both “nearby” and “far away,” according to Jeremiah 23:23.

Praise Jesus today, and often. Praise Him like this boy did, confidently, matter of factly, and certainly.

“but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

Posted in beauty, encouragement, praise

Jesus, tempted at all points, knew no sin

Why did Jesus have to live a full-length life from babe to adulthood? Why couldn’t He have come down, taught, died and then been resurrected?

John MacArthur preached on the reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21) and included the answer to this question.

He said, “I must fulfill all righteousness. He said that to John the Baptist, remember, “I must fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15). When the writer of Hebrews says He was tempted at all points like we are yet was without sin, “all points” are chronological. He was tempted the way a child was tempted. He was tempted the way a young person was tempted. He was tempted the way a young adult was tempted. He was tempted at ALL points in the chronology of human life. He lived a complete life into adulthood, tempted every way possible that a human being could be tempted…and yet without sin. Why does there have to be this complete, sinless life? Answer: so that sinless life can be credited to your account. Understand it this way- on the cross, God treats Jesus as if he lived your life so He can treat you as if you lived His.

Jesus is estimated to have lived 33 years. The Compass Point system of headings has 32 “points of the compass”. Jesus was tempted “at all points” from birth to death in adulthood and all points in between.” It’s not exact, but I like the visual.

This one’s prettier

Judy Merrill

It is amazing to think our Savior lived a full, perfect, complete life so that He could take on our sin, and we could receive His righteousness. Let this encourage you and humble you and bring you joy. Much joy. Jesus is the unique, wonderful, beautiful God-Man there could possibly ever be.

How I long for my tongue not to be limited to mere constraining words, so I can express the beauty of Jesus in more complete terms. When we are glorified, I pray that our fullness in body and mind will allow a more expansive expression of devotion to the One who is beyond superlatives. For now, here is a psalm of praise-

My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
Psalm 45:1-2

Posted in encouragement, jesus, praise, revelation

"…and his face was like the sun shining in full strength"

In the spring and summer, the sun is a position that when it rises in the morning, it bursts over the trees and its rays shoot down the road.

I live at the end of a small one-way street. Looking east, the sun rises over the tree line for a few minutes, brightening the sky. It’s coming!

Suddenly the sunrays burst out and stream down the road, lighting all the bushes and pastures along the way

The brightness is incredible, reflecting off everything the sun rays touch. The bushes burst into focus, each leaf evident in the gold adornment

It’s as if the curtain of golden light is being raised- you can see half the bush illuminated as the sun rises higher and higher, the shadow line sinking fast to the ground as the illumination is almost complete

I always love that moment, when the sun comes up and the first light shows itself. What will it be like when we’re called home in the rapture, and we see the full light of the glory of Jesus?!

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Revelation 1:12-16)

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:22-23)

All praise to the Lamb, the Light of the world!!