Tag Archive | God

Do you know how fast God can run?

I’m reading through Jeremiah. It’s been about ten years since I read through and so it’s time again. What a blessing God’s word is! I am overfilled and overwhelmed with just the first 11 verses in chapter 1.

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

I enjoy the natural history aspects of scripture. As I read verse 11, I stopped to learn more. The first chapter deals with Jeremiah’s call to his fifty-year-plus long prophetic office, almost all of which was difficult, depressing, and discouraging.

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, opening with the famous line-

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

This is an example of foreordination, where God does not merely react to events on earth, but ordains them from before He created the world. He not only knows the end from the beginning, He authored it, ordained, it and performs it.

I was curious about the linkage of the almond tree with God’s word. What it is about an almond tree that I need to know so I can understand this verse better? How is an almond tree like God’s word? Why is an almond branch being used as a promise from the LORD that He will perform His word?

Spurgeon helped here, preaching an entire sermon on just verse 11. (sermon #2678, THE LESSON OF THE ALMOND TREE)  His sermon is ripe with meaning, insight, and background. It was extremely illuminating.

The almond tree is the first tree to awaken in the winter, hastening to put out leaves and then ripe fruit before any other tree. Spurgeon said that the Hebrew word for almond is wakeful.

Observe, first, that THE ALMOND IS A WAKEFUL TREE. The Hebrew word which is rendered “almond” comes from a root signifying to be wakeful, so this passage might be read thus, “I see the wakeful rod.”

Now, to my question about the linking of the almond tree with God’s word. In the section of his sermon explaining the almond tree with God being quick in performing His promises, Spurgeon said in part,

“Oh, but!” says one, “There are often long delays before peace is enjoyed.” Then it is because you make them, for God does not. “But sometimes we have to wait,” says one. Yes, yes; I know all about that waiting. Do you remember, in the parable of the prodigal son, where he waited? Why, with the harlots and others with whom he wasted his substance in riotous living, or with the swine, when he was feeding them with the husks with which he would gladly have filled his own empty belly. That is where he waited; but when did he end his waiting? When he said, “I will arise and go to my father.” He did not wait any longer, for we read, “And he arose, and came to his father;” and then it is written, “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him,

and”—”and”—”and”—”and stood still, and waited for him to come”? No, no; I know that God waits to be gracious; but, according to the teaching of that parable, “when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran.” Do you know how fast God can run?

But again I ask, can you tell me how fast God can run? No, you do not know, you cannot tell; but you do know that He is all on fire with love to embrace a poor penitent sinner, and He speeds towards him at an amazing rate. … Swift as the lightning’s flash is the glance of divine compassion that brings life to a penitent soul.

I’ve always been slain and humbled by this fact. In my own conversion, I was in a dire spiritual circumstance, at very rock bottom. My next stop was the pit to be lost forever. At the end of myself, the only place I had to look was up. I was 42 years old, having pursued sin all my life. Yet when I cried out to Him for “help”, He helped me immediately. He didn’t say, ‘Wait, you decades-old sinner.” He did not say “Let me think about it.” I pled for my soul and He answered immediately. He ran!

He is a good God, a just God. I would have deserved my place alongside other sinners in hell. Yet he hastened to fulfill my appeal. Do I know how fast God can run? Yes, I do. I am eternally grateful.

Holy Week: A Personal God

God is a personal God. Even the thunderous, Mt. Sinai, pestilence-bringing, smiting God of the Old Testament. Yes. Especially the Old Testament God. And of course in the New Testament God is a personal God, too. We see Him in Jesus, who is both fully man and fully God. He had come to serve. He did so meekly and humbly, even washing feet.

We read in Genesis that God created the worlds, He did it personally and carefully, with precision. He spoke them into life.

‘In the beginning, God said’… He spoke.

And God said, And God said, Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24.

When it came time to form man, God did not speak. He did it Himself, personally, and with His own breath.

then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature… (Genesis 2:7)

Therefore, we see that God’s intimate formation of the world got even more intimate when He made man.

It gets even better.

Because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we have an even more intimate relationship with Him and He with us. We are His body, His blood covers us. We are IN Him.

It is holy week, so it bears thinking about Him on a special level. We are “in Christ”. We read it in 1 Peter 5:14; Philippians 1:1; Romans 8:1, Colossians 3:3. We have it explained in Galatians 3:26-28-

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

John MacArthur explained about what it means to be “in Christ” in his inimitable way in the sermon, Under the Law, or In Christ? He opened the salient portion of the sermon this way before going on to spend time expounding what it means to be In Christ. I recommend the sermon.

To ask the question, “What is a Christian?” That question is simply answered, right here. A Christian is one who is in Christ. That’s all. You can imagine following the teachings of Buddha, following the teachings of Confucius, or following the teachings of Muhammad, but you can’t imaging anyone saying, “I’m in Confucius. I’m in Buddha. I’m in Muhammad.” There’s no such thing as a Christian who isn’t in Christ. You see, we’re not following the teachings of a man, we’re in union with Him. If that boggles your brain, you haven’t heard anything yet. In Christ.

We have a personal God. We have a loving God. He is expressly concerned with His creation, and particularly concerned with His children.

It is holy week. Hallelujah to the Lamb!

God created a colorful world. He didn’t have to…

Genesis 1:1:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth

When God created the earth, He could have made it colorless. He could have used only His brush strokes of black, or gray, or brown. The world could look like this:

Did you ever wonder why God graced us with a common grace of color? He has made the world beautiful in its time, says Ecclesiastes 3:11. This beauty includes the spectrum of colors which we enjoy in all its prettiness. I particularly enjoy colorful flowers.

The Bible has in it of course, references to colors. It doesn’t, however, really explain if colors of the tabernacle meant anything, if they individually had a symbolism. Other colors do have a symbolism. Here is Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary’s entry on color:

Color, Symbolic Meaning Of

Although the Bible contains relatively few references to individual colors, their symbolic associations are theologically significant. Colors usually symbolize redemptive and eschatological themes. The Bible is, however, silent on whether the colors used in the tabernacle, temple, and priestly garments held symbolic meaning.

Black signifies gloom, mourning, evil, judgment, and death (Lam 4:8; Micah 3:6; Zechariah 6:2 Zechariah 6:6; Revelation 6:5 Revelation 6:12). Its image is often one of dense, impenetrable darkness (Job 3:5; Isa 50:3). The terms “darkness” and “night” parallel this usage (Job 3:3-7; Joel 2:2; Zeph 1:15). Hell is the place of “blackest darkness” reserved for the godless (2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13).

The pale horse of Revelation 6:8 resembles the color of the terror-stricken and corpses (cf. Jer 30:6; Dan 10:8). The horse’s color matches the work of its rider. Its rider is called Death, who, with Hades, goes forth to kill a fourth of humankind.

An expensive dye, purple represents wealth and royalty (Judges 8:26; Est 8:15; Daniel 5:7, Daniel 5:16, Daniel 5:29; Luke 16:19); for this reason, idols were attired in purple (Jer 10:9). The purple dress of the harlot symbolized Roman imperial rank (Rev 17:4; Revelation 18:12, Revelation 18:16). Before his crucifixion, Jesus was robed in purple in mockery of him as “king of the Jews” (Mark 15:17, Mark 15:20; John 19:2, John 19:5; cf. Matt 27:28,; “scarlet robe”). Garments of purple suitably clothe a wife of noble character (Prov 31:22).

Red symbolizes blood. Israel’s sin as brilliant scarlet and deep-red crimson is analogous to the bloodstained hands of murderers (Isaiah 1:15 Isaiah 1:18). The images of red, blood-soaked garments of God as an avenging warrior (Isa 63:1-6) and the fiery red horse bringing slaughter through warfare (Zech 6:2; Rev 6:4) describe divine retribution against evildoers (see also Joel 2:31; Rev 6:12). The red color of the dragon (Rev 12:3) and beast (17:3) symbolizes the shedding of innocent blood (11:7; 16:6). The red heifer (Nu 19:1-10) and scarlet wool (Heb 9:19) symbolize the Old Testament means of purification through blood; the New Testament powerfully expresses the fullness of Christ’s atoning work through a contradictory color image: believers’ robes are washed pure white through the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9 Revelation 7:13-14 ; 19:13-14).

White signifies purity and holiness. It depicts complete forgiveness of sin. David and Israel’s bloodguilt would be fully removed, leaving them whiter than snow/wool (Psalm 51:7; Isa 1:18). It represents the absolute moral purity of God (Da 7:9), Christ (Rev 1:14; Mark 9:3; pars.), angels (Mark 16:5 ; pars. Acts 1:10), and believers (Rev 2:17; 3:4-5; 4:4), and thus of the divine judgment of God (20:11) and Christ (14:14). It indicates the certainty of God’s conquest and victory over evil (Zechariah 6:3 Zechariah 6:6; Rev 6:2; 19:11).

H. Douglas Buckwalter, Bibliography. G. W. Thatcher, Hasting’s Dictionary of the Bible, 1:456-58; P. L. Garber, ISBE, 1:729-32; A. Brenner, Colour Terms in the Old Testament; “Color, ” BEB, 1:494-96.

Color is a common grace. Every person on the planet whether young or old, saved and acknowledging the creator or unsaved and worshiping the creation, enjoys the colors of this earth. Everyone can admire a sunset, colorful avian plumage, floral hues that delight the senses.

Theopedia defines common grace as

Common Grace refers to the grace of God that is common to all humankind. It is “common” because its benefits are experienced by the whole human race without distinction between one person and another, believers or unbelievers. It is “grace” because it is undeserved and sovereignly bestowed by God.

The Lord God created a world that is beautiful. Its beauty is enhanced by the colors He created for us (and Him!) to enjoy in our common grace. The painted desert, the lush tropics, the animals, insects, and fish in all their rich tones and hues are a joy. He didn’t have to But He did.

Thank you Lord!

El Shama: A God who hears, He is a God who listens

Doesn’t it just crush you to pray to Jesus…and know He hears us? It’s incredible, and a privilege we always remember in gratitude.

As Isaiah cried in his wonder and grief, “I am a man of unclean lips!” (Isaiah 6:5). In my case, a woman of unclean lips. Why should I be able to use these lips to pray to Jesus when I am the chief of sinners, wretched woman that I am? What is man that God should be mindful of us? (Psalm 8:4). Why should He hear us?

But He does.

Though ‘El Shama’ is not an official name of God, it refers to the fact that God hears…He listens. God told Hagar to name her soon to be born son Ishmael. Ishmael is is a combination of el and shama, “God hears” or “God listens”. The name would be a reminder to Hagar and all who knew them that He heard Hagar’s cry in the wilderness. (Genesis 16:11). He listens.

Psalm 17:6 says

I have called on you, for you will hear me, O God: incline your ear to me, and hear my speech.

Gill’s Expositions says of the Psalmist’s plea in verse 6,

“for thou wilt hear me, O God; God is a God hearing prayer; he is used to hear his people, and they have frequent experience of it, and they may be assured that whatsoever they ask according to his will, and in the name of Christ, he will hear; and such an assurance is a reason engaging the saints to a constant calling upon God, Psalm 116:2; and such confidence of being always heard Christ had, John 11:41;”

1 John 5:14 says,

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

Did Peter forever relive his anguish each morning of his remaining life, when he heard the rooster crow the day awake and remembered his own perfidy? Owww, Peter, I understand your grief, the pain of betraying Jesus in word or in deed from our own sinful actions. Yet…Jesus prayed for Peter. Luke 22:32. He did not pray for Judas. Both men betrayed Jesus, but Jesus prayed for Peter.

If you’re a Christian, Jesus prays for you, too. It’s staggering to consider that the God of the Universe prays for us. He hears us, and He prays for us. We have a superlative God, One who is true and kind and loving and compassionate. Sister, no matter what you are going through, Jesus hears your prayer and He takes your cares to the Father in prayer. Be encouraged.

be strong verse

Predestination means people are elected as vessels of wrath, too. Part 3

Vessels of Wrath Part 1 here
Vessels of Wrath Part 2 here

A few days ago I’d posted an essay about predestination. This is the doctrine where the Bible teaches that God is completely sovereign over everything that happens, including individual salvations. He elects people to salvation, independently and apart from foreknowledge of any decision they make. It’s all His grace, and not our decision.

People dislike that doctrine and fight against it. One of the reasons people resist the plain truth of the doctrine is that people want to think that somewhere in their heart or mind, they chose God. However, we are dead in sins and trespasses and have no ability to choose God, or ‘make a decision’ about our salvation. It is granted to us. (Galatians 3:22). We have no part in it, except the resulting gratitude and service in His name.

The verse to consider today is from Romans 9:21-24

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

There are vessels of mercy, and there are vessels of wrath. Considering anything regarding God is weighty and should fill the saved and the non-saved with awe and humility. But to really consider His work of judgment should bring to mind the famous comment attributed to martyr John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God go I”.

Here is M’Cheyne preaching on the Romans verse. In my opinion, it’s brilliant. The full sermon is here.

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The Vessels of Wrath Fitted to Destruction
by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

I come now to the third point–the reason given why believers are saved. Verse 23 – “And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” One reason why there are vessels of wrath fitted to destruction is, that God may show by contrast the riches of his grace on the vessels of mercy. You know, brethren, we learn many things best by contrast: for example, the rainbow is never seen so bright as in the bosom of a dark cloud. So, brethren, we shall never see the love and com passion of God in them that are saved so gloriously displayed as when we see his wrath poured out on the vessels of wrath. This, then, is one reason why there are vessels of wrath.

I believe that the “riches of glory” here spoken of are the whole rainbow of the divine attributes displayed in the salvation of souls. It was for this reason that God provided that there should be vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. This may appear to you very awful: it is so to myself. I could not and dare not speak of it if it were not here in God’s own Word.

I would just show you one or two of his attributes that will be brilliantly illustrated in the salvation of souls. One is, the sovereignty of God. I have often told you of this. Many of you do not believe it; but there is a day coming when God will put it beyond a doubt. There are whole churches – whole bodies of professing Christians – that deny it; but there is a day coming when there will be none in heaven, or earth, or hell, that will deny it. Suppose that day were come, and this congregation divided, some on the left hand, some on the right, will you not see then God’s sovereignty in the contrast? You were once all the same. You were under the same condemnation. Some of you came out of the same womb – were nursed at the same mother’s breast; yet it will be seen that some will be taken and some left. What made the difference? Every creature will see that God made the difference, that he had “mercy on whom he would have mercy.”

Another is, the pardoning attribute of God. At present this is denied; but, brethren, in that day it will be made known. God will make known the riches of his glorious mercy on the vessels of mercy. O brethren, when one vessel is cleansed and taken up to glory, and another is left to perish, and when you see that they were equally sinful, then you will see that it was blood that made the difference. God will make known the riches of his mercy in the vessels of mercy, as well as his wrath in the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.

Let us learn a few lessons from this subject. And –

1st. All will not be saved. It is a fearful delusion among you – I do not say you avow it, but you practically say, you believe – that there will be no hell. It was God’s plan that there should be vessels of wrath as well as vessels of mercy. Brethren, it is better it should be so. O do not dream! All will not be saved. There are vessels of wrath as well as vessels of mercy. Some of you, I think, are going to hell, and some, I trust, are going to heaven; and doubtless it is best it should be so, though I cannot explain the reason of it. The net has good and bad fishes: some will be taken into the vessel, and some will be cast away.

2nd. Every one of you will be to the glory of God. You will be made to glorify him in one way or another. You will either do it willingly or unwillingly. You must form a step to his throne. Ah, brethren! I believe each of you will yet be a beacon or a monument – either a beacon of wrath or a monument of mercy, “He hath made all things form himself; even the wicked for the day of evil.” Yes, wicked man, you would rob God of his glory if you could, but you cannot. If you come to Christ, you will show forth his glory in saving you; but if you do not, God will show forth his power in destroying a vessel of his wrath.

3rd. There is a third lesson we may learn. It is, the chief end of God in the world to manifest his glory. Many think, especially infidel men, that God’s chief end is the happiness of his creatures; but, from deep study of the Word of God for years, I see that it is not so. If that were his chief end, all would be happy. His chief end is diverse – it is self-manifestation. Had it not been for this, God would have remained alone in awful solitude. I would desire to speak with deep reverence on such a subject. This seems to be the reason why there are vessels of wrath as well as of mercy – that they might be mirrors to reflect his attributes. And I believe, brethren, when creation is done, and when redemption is done, that there will then be a complete manifestation of the glory of God.

4th. Another lesson we may learn is, God is longsuffering to the vessels of wrath. I remember a person who once argued with me that she must needs be a child of God on account of his goodness to her. She enumerated many blessings she had received – how God had protected her in a foreign country, how many trials she had been delivered out of, and how many domestic comforts she had enjoyed. My only answer to her was, “The goodness of god leadeth thee to repentance.” It is no proof that you are a child of God that God has borne long with you. There would be many children of God here, if this were the case. Ah, brethren! Strange though it may seem, he does not want any to perish – he does bear long with you.

Last of all, the destruction of the vessels of wrath will be no grief to the vessels of mercy. I once spoke to you of this before; but I would again remind you of it. The redeemed will have no tears to shed; and here is the reason – the very destruction of the wicked makes known the riches of divine grace. O my believing brethren, it will be an awful day when we shall not weep to see them perish. The day is hastening on – the day when no more rivers of waters will run down our eyes because they keep not God’s law. But, O brethren, till that day come let us weep on; for, although God will be glorified in the destruction of the vessels of his wrath, he will be more glorified in making them vessels of mercy. The Lord bless his own Word. Amen.

—————–end——————

perfect love moon verse

Further Reading

Is Predestination Biblical?

Doesn’t John 3:16 mean that anyone can believe?

 

Why does the LORD allow false prophets?

One question I’m asked a lot is “Why does the Lord allow false teachers?” I ask myself that question a lot! Another question related to it is, “Why do false teachers prosper?” We’re not alone in asking this. Job, Jeremiah, and David all asked the same thing. (Job 21:7, Jeremiah 12:1, Psalm 94:3). You and I are in good company!  I think of Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen and other false teachers especially on the African continent, who live high off the hog and rake in millions of dollars, and it grieves me to see the sheep led astray and the false teachers enjoying a comfortable life filled with amenities, acclaim, and comfort. So…why?? Continue reading