Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spiritual Cartography

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Friday, September 20, 2013:  Isaiah 33:10-36:22

Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.  Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.  For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah.  The scorched land will become a pool and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, its resting place, grass becomes reeds and rushes. A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness.  The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, and fools will not wander on it.  Isaiah 35:5-8 (NASB)

I love maps.  Old maps -- folding maps -- wall maps -- all kinds of maps -- globes -- atlases.  They speak of places yet to go -- paths yet to travel.  They give a God's eye view of the lands we live.

Maps show us 3 things (at least): 1) where we are (location), 2) where we want to go (destination), and 3) how to get there (direction).  Maps are absolutely necessary for the JOURNEY.  Without a map, we resort to guess-work.

The Bible is like a road map. It helps us understand where we are, where God wants us to go, and His plan for how we get there.  It is a kind of spiritual cartography.

Maps show roads, highways, cities, rivers, everything.  Isaiah speaks of God's prescribed path for us.  He calls it the "highway of holiness."  Interesting name.

The word "holiness" (in a negative sense) conjures up images of austerity and severe devotion.  That may be just my own personal misconception, but I have to overcome a rather Listerine taste associated with this idea of "holiness."

I really need to get over that misconception, because "holiness" is one of the greatest words in the Bible.  It doesn't just mean moral purity.  It means separated unto God -- immersed in God -- saturated with "The Magnificent OTHER."  Holiness means living the "God Life".  That means all the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 2:22-23) -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  The Bible speaks of "the beauty of holiness" (I Chron. 16:29, II Chron. 20:21, Ps. 29:2, Ps. 96:9).  Imagine the embodiment of pure beauty.  That's coming close to what holiness is -- to what God is like.

Isaiah tells us we are on the Highway of Holiness.  Holiness means wholeness, completeness, symmetry, beauty.  As we walk this path, we will see miracles.  Blind people begin to see.  Deaf people hear.  The lame learn to walk and the mute learn to shout for the first time.  Scorched places become luxuriant pools.  It is awesome.

I want to walk on that road.  I want to make that journey.  How about you?  The farther up this mountain we climb, the purer the air becomes.  Let's walk this road together.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

IDENTITY: "I am in Christ"

Here are the notes from the message preached at New Life Community Church Sunday, September 22, 2013.  This is the second in the series IDENTITY: Finding the Real You, and is entitled "I am in Christ".  If you desire to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at  God bless.

IDENTITY: Finding the Real You, Part 2                                                    Sun., Sept. 22, 2013
 “I am in Christ”

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  II Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

Question:  Who are the two most important, most influential people in world history?

Jesus and Adam

I Co., 15

Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  I Co. 15:45 (ESV)

21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  I Co. 15:21-22 (ESV)

Three Questions:
Who do you think you are?
Who does God say that you are?
Who does Satan say that you are?

Who does God say that you are?

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…  Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV)

1. Revelation Receiver
2. Image Bearer
3. Over and Under
4. Birthed for Blessing

Then the devil comes along in Genesis 3 and says, “Did God say….?”

Who does God say that you are?
Illustration:  Johnny Cash
Illustration:  Chelsea Clinton


Question:  Do people ever really change?

15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.  Romans 7:15 (NLT)

22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Romans 7:22-24 (ESV)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:1 (ESV)

Will you live in ADAM or in CHRIST?

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  Colossian 3:1-3 (ESV)

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  Colossians 3:1-10 (ESV)

The Way to Lose This Battle:

1.     A NEGATIVE area of your life becomes part of your IDENTITY.

Anger, Depression, Poverty, Lack of Success, Broken Relationships, Addiction, Habitual Sin.
Difference between AA and Celebrate Recovery

2.     You feel increasingly HOPELESS.

Start losing hope because you’ve tried really hard, but failed.

3.     You become DEFENSIVE.

Sensitive to others’ opinions.  Hide from public scrutiny.  Pull back from being vulnerable about it. 

4.     You become a SLAVE.

When the devil isolates you, he can really pound you.

5.     You begin to LOSE your life.

knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  Romans 6:6 (NKJV)

 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  Romans 6:4 (NKJV)

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Prevailing Kingdom of Christ

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Thursday, September 19, 2013:  Isaiah 30:12-33:9

8 “Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man, and a sword not of mankind shall devour him. But he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall become forced labor.  9 He shall cross over to his stronghold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the banner,” says the Lord, whose fire is in Zion and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.  Isaiah 31:8-9 (NKJV)

1 Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice.  2 A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.  Isaiah 32:1-2 (NKJV)

There is a gigantic divide taking place in our world.  It is the age-old battle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness.  We see it described throughout the pages of Scripture.  We are watching it unfold in our daily news.

Isaiah 31:8-32:8 gives us a glimpse of what God sees.  This small picture is about Assyria and Judah.  We should see these as symbolic of our world today.  If we do, an amazing and powerfully prophetic word unfolds.  Assyria is the world.  Judah is the church.

It is so important for us who are Bible-believing Christians to SEE FROM GOD'S PERSPECTIVE.  Isaiah 31:8 starts, "Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man, and a sword not of mankind shall devour him."  

In our day, it seems that the kingdom of darkness is advancing powerfully.  When we look at the decay of moral values, the disintegration of the family, and the increase of horrific violence, it is hard to deny that evil seems to be winning.  Assyria does not appear to be falling.

But God is all the while at work!  There are two kingdoms in conflict.  It is not our job to worry about or analyse the advance of Satan's kingdom.  It is our job to be the salt and light of Christ's Kingdom in the midst of a crazy world.  

God will handle Assyria in His own time and in His own way.  Judgment will come NOT by man's sword, but by the Lord's doing.  I am not saying we should be uninvolved or unengaged.  Of course not.  We hold forth the word of God in the midst of a world that is headed in the wrong direction.  But, we cannot be dismayed at what seems to be loss of ground.  Ultimately, God will show up and He can set things right in a moment!

Because... "His fire is in Zion, and His furnace is in Jerusalem" (Is. 31:9).  While Assyria seems to be advancing, there is a fire growing in Zion.  That means, we need to be stoking the fire of God's power and presence even while the world falls apart.  The issue is not the FALL of the world, it is the FIRE in God's people.

Ultimately, Jesus wins!  Do not be confused about that!  Isaiah 32:1 says, "A king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice."  I do not know how all this takes place.  Is this in the Millennium, or is it in our present world?  Here is what I see:  while Assyria is falling to pieces, there will be a parallel action of  God's Kingdom advancing.  In the world there will be tribulation, but among the people of God there will be safety and blessing -- "a King will be reigning in righteousness, and princes (that's us) will be ruling in justice."

In that light, according to Is. 32:2, we will become a "hiding place" to which many in the world can run for safety.  We will provide a "covering from the tempest."  It is our job to be "rivers of water" to those dying of thirst.  

The way of this world CANNOT ultimately succeed.  God Himself guarantees His own victory.  He shall reign forever and ever.  While we live in a mixed up world, may we be full of His fire and reigning with Him.  

The last verses of this passage sum it up.  In Is. 32:7-8 we read about evil men and good men.  While evil schemers are destroying the poor with lies, God's people will be GENEROUS.  God will give us generous plans even while destructive agendas are hurting people. Christ's Kingdom shall prevail!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Unshakable Living

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Wednesday, September 18, 2013:  Isaiah 28:14-30:11

Therefore thus says the Lord God“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily. Isaiah 28:16 (NKJV)

The last part of this verse is interesting.  The New King James says we will "not act hastily."  The Hebrew word translated "act hastily" is chush (pronounced kuush).  It means to more than "to move quickly."  It means to be stirred up and out of sorts -- to be "in a dither."

Isaiah says that God will do something inside us that will cause us to always be steady and calm -- unflustered and unbothered -- at peace, no matter what is going on around us.

Other translations illustrate this for us.  Isaiah 28:16 in the NIV says, "the one who relies on God will never be stricken with panic."  The NLT: "never be shaken."  I like the Holman Christian Standard Bible:  "the one who believes with be UNSHAKABLE."

I want to be that way.  I want to be so secure in Jesus that nothing the devil or the world throws at me can get me out of sorts.

Isaiah 28:16 says that this kind of security is tied to our FOUNDATIONS not our situations.  I Co. 2:11 says that the only foundation that really lasts is none other than Jesus Christ.  He is our solid rock. There are three things listed about this foundation:

1.  It is a TRIED stone.  This means it is tested or approved.  Jesus stood the test.  He came out on the other side APPROVED by the Father.  No matter what kind of test you are going through, He has ALREADY been through it.  Therefore, He can hold us steady.

2.  It is a CORNERSTONE.  The cornerstone of any building is the first stone laid.  It sets the angles lines for the rest of the building.  Everything that goes into the building should square up correctly with the cornerstone.  Jesus give definition to our lives.  He brings order and direction.

3.  It is SURE.  Jesus will never lie to us or mislead us.  His Word guides us faithfully.  Therefore I can be unafraid.  I need not worry because He is my guarantee.

God wants us to be unshakable.  We live in a world that is falling apart, yet we can remain steady.  E. Stanley Jones wrote a classic book years ago entitled The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person.  It is about life built on Jesus Christ.  That's the way I want to live.  How about you?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Precept upon Precept, Line upon Line

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, September 17, 2013:  Isaiah 25:1-28:13

“Whom will he teach knowledge?  And whom will he make to understand the message?  Those just weaned from milk?  Those just drawn from the breasts?  10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”  Isaiah 28:9-10 (NKJV)

God speaks.  He talks to us.  He HAS SPOKEN to us in Scripture.  It is incredible to realize that Almighty God has revealed Himself to us, and we may know Him.  

But here's the question:  How may we know God better?  How may we become closer to Him and more acquainted with His ways?  I propose to you that we cannot truly love God any more than we love His Word.  

A disconcerting trend has grown in recent years that knowing God is a matter of content-less emotional experience.  It matters not WHAT you believe just so long as you believe.  Scripture is but a distant resource that complements knowing God, but is somewhat unnecessary.

Bible study has fallen on hard times in our day.  It seems that few want to dive into the Scriptures.  Sunday sermons have often degenerated into entertainment times where the center of the message is a knock-out illustration or a humorous anecdote.  

Don't get me wrong.  I believe that the anointed declaration of the Word of God will thrill the soul like nothing else.  It is the best show in town.  It should be packaged in ways that make it accessible to the common man.  But, there is no need to embellish the Word of God in order to make it more attractive.  

How can we know God better?  To whom will the message become clearer?  

Isaiah says it this way:  "Line upon line, precept upon precept."  That means we learn how the Bible builds upon itself.  No line and no precept may be taken out of context.  It must all fit together to make a powerful declaration of the will of God.  

How are you doing with the Bible?  Is it like fast food or is it like a gourmet meal?

Isaiah says we are to be like children just weaned from milk.  "Weaning" means we have to learn a new way to get nourishment.  We have been nourished by being "spoon fed."  Now we must learn to dig out the truth for ourselves.

It is time to dive into God's Word in earnest.  There are riches beyond measure waiting for you.  It will be nourishment that will delight your soul.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Faithful Like Eliakim

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Monday, September 16, 2013: Isaiah 22:1-24:23

20 ‘Then it shall be in that day, that I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; 21 I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.  22 The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open.  23 I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, and he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.  Isaiah 22:20-23 (NKJV)

Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, was a nobody.  We know almost nothing about this man.  But, out of nowhere, God elevated him to become one of the most powerful men in Israel.  

His predecessor, Shebna, had been the head of finance under King Hezekiah.  But, greed and corruption brought him down.  This sounds like something right out of today's newspapers.  It is interesting to note that human nature has always been the same.  Government is a battlefield in which the true tendencies of men are made plain and open.

Shebna fell.  But, God had Eliakim ready.  God CLOTHED him, STRENGTHENED him, and SANCTIONED him.  

In times of moral upheaval, we need men and women like Eliakim.  They are clothed in Christ's righteousness.  They have the belt of truth -- honesty and integrity (Eph. 6:14).  And they know how to walk in the authority of Christ.  That's what keys are all about.

Keys mean ownership and authority.  Keys symbolize the ability to BIND AND LOOSE.  As servants of God, we have the ability of open and close doors. 

It is in this very area that Shebna failed.  He could not handle God's blessing.  Sanction and authority are easily misused.  Our flesh is tempted toward self-gratification.  

May we be faithful like Eliakim so that God's glorious plans can go forward.  That's my prayer.  I hope it is yours, too.

IDENTITY: "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Here are the notes from the message yesterday at New Life Community Church.  This was the first of the 6-part series IDENTITY: Finding the Real You.  It is entitled: "Who Do You Think You Are?"  If you would like to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at  God bless!

IDENTITY: Finding the Real You, Part 1                                                    Sun., Sept. 15, 2013
 “Who Do You Think You Are?”

The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.  Isaiah 62:2 (ESV)

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’  Revelation 2:17 (NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  II Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, very first lines: 
“Our wisdom, is so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two part: the knowledge of God, and of ourselves.  But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes, and gives birth to the other.  For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts toward God in whom he lives and moves…and indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves.”

Who do you think you are?

The answer to that question is         IDENTITY-SHAPING
Please note, I did not ask, “Who are you?”
I asked, “Who do you think you are?”
Our world is taken with pop psychology’s answer to this question:


How do you answer the question:
“I am _______________.”
Rich                 Poor
Young             Old
Smart               Stupid
Loved              Unloved
Single              Married
Married           Divorced
Desirable         Undesirable
Successful       Failure
Hope               Hopeless

This starts when you’re little. 

CHILDHOOD:  From the earliest age. 
First-born?       Baby of the family?    Middle child?
What were you like?   Funny kid?      Chubby kid?   Athletic kid?   Quiet kid?

TEEN YEARS.  Jr. Hi and High school.  Teen years.
Jr. hi.  Met with all new challenges.  New schools.  New relationships.        Everyone trying to tell you who you are.             Your body starts changing.     If you’re a boy your voice changes.    Or maybe everyone else’s body is changing and yours isn’t.  Clothes become important. Hair. Hair products.  Time in the bathroom.             Growth spurts or lack thereof. Am I staying up with my peers?  Are they leaving me behind?        

COLLEGE.  Chance to completely reinvent yourself.  New freedoms.  You move out of the house, maybe away.  Fresh start.  How do I want people to perceive me?  What kind of person do I want to be?            Will I go to church or not go to church?    Will I drink or not drink.  Will I sleep around or not sleep around?  Will I go where friends are?      What kind of friends do I even want?
Bigger: what kind of degree will I get?  What do I want to be?  Life choices start being made.  What kind of job do I want?  Will I make enough money?  Will I be in a relationship?  Or will I be single forever?

CAREER:  You get the job and it consumes your identity.  Follow a career path.

MARRIAGE:  Suddenly your identity becomes very conflicted.  You thought they were going to marry you to help you become who you wanted.  But they were thinking the same thing.  Suddenly two selfish people with separate identities come together expecting something that the other cannot provide.  They collide into misery.  We call this marriage. 
The Bible says, “Two become one.”  Two what?  Two IDENTITIES.  Whereas you once asked “What is my identity?”  Now you ask “What is our identity?”
Young woman must go from career-minded, self-sufficient, self-determination to being a WIFE.  Must learn to allow her husband to lead their home.
Man must learn how to be a HUSBAND.

CHILDREN:  a new center around which the family orbits.  Soaks up all the identity around it.  It determines where you go, what you eat, what you spend, when you sleep, if you sleep, how you plan vacations, how the house is organized, what car you buy.

EMPTY NEST:  Kids get older and don’t need you like they used to.  They start moving out.  When the empty nest hits you, there’s another identity crisis.  Sometimes the kids held the marriage together.  The marriage can crash into divorce when the idol moves out.

WIDOWED:  Alone.  Spouse is deceased.  Kids grown up and gone.  Grandchildren only call occasionally.  WHO AM I?

1.     Who do you think you are?
2.     Who does God say that you are?
3.     Who does Satan say that you are.

Who do you think you are?

The answer to that question is         IDENTITY-SHAPING

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.  Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV)

Invictus by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Who does God say you are?

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…  Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV)

1.     You are a REVELATION Receivers

You don’t have to figure out who you are.  God already knows it.  He made you and He SPEAKS.  You are to seek it and receive it. 
No need for SPECULATION; instead we get REVELATION.

2.     You are the IMAGE BEARER.

Made to mirror.  Not a matter of how you look, but how He looks on you.
Not a matter of what you do, or how you look, but of what you carry.  You carry the image of God.

3.     You are OVER and UNDER.

What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?  Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!  You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, Psalm 8:4-6 (NASB)

This cuts directly against the current evolutionary understanding of man.
We are not just the product of CHANCE AND NECESSITY.  Light hitting some primordial ooze.
We are not just lucky animals with thumbs.
You have a God-given place in creation:  over and under.

4.     You were BIRTHED for BLESSING.

Doctrine of ORIGINAL SIN. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, Ephesians 1:3 (ESV)

Who does Satan say you are?

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, … Genesis 3:1 (NKJV)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Weird Old Testament Prophets

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Sunday, September 15, 2013:  Isaiah 19:1-21:17

1 In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it, 2 at the same time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.  3 Then the Lord said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, 4 so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.  Isaiah 20:1-4 (NKJV)

Old Testament prophets could at times be really strange dudes.  It actually becomes a bit hard to understand.  They were used by God to deliver His word, but at times He also called them to DEMONSTRATE His prophetic word.  

Isaiah was told to do a PROPHETIC ACT.  By definition, a prophetic act is an action that  accompanies and illustrates the word of the Lord.  The prophet would DO something as an outward illustration to bring maximum impact.  It is also conceivable that at times the prophetic act is PART of the prophecy.  Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the prophetic act releases the power of God to enact His Word.  

I have gone on prayer journeys to lands where Christianity is outlawed.  There we deposited Bibles or Scripture portions into hidden places or walls.  This was done as a prophetic act in prayer believing for the impact of the Word of God in that foreign land.  I have observed Holy Communion inside pagan temples proclaiming the power of Jesus' sacrifice against the darkness of idol-worship.  These would be considered prophetic actions.  

But, these Old Testament prophets took this to a whole new level!  Hosea was told to marry a prostitute as an illustration of how God still loved Israel (Hos. 1:2).  Ezekiel was instructed to lay on his side for 390 days, then lay on the other side for 40 more (Ez. 4:4-6).  Jeremiah was commanded to wear an ox's yoke around his neck (Jer. 27:1-2).  Isaiah was perhaps the most dramatic.  God said walk around naked for three years!

Incidentally, most commentators agree that the Hebrew allows some latitude in meaning.  Naked may not mean total birthday suit, but may mean everything but a loincloth.

What would you do if someone came to your church claiming God told them to walk around naked as an illustration of America's sins?  Honestly, I would think he was a few fries short of a Happy Meal.  I would pat him on the back while signaling for back-up.  

I do not know how to process these extreme Old Testament prophetic acts.  If done today they would be weird.  I simply accept them as the way God operated in that era.

And it makes me really glad I live in the New Testament, under the full revelation of Jesus!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

When Lucifer Created Evil

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Friday, September 13, 2013:  Isaiah 12:1-14:32

12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!  13 For you have said in your heart:  ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’    Isaiah 14:12-14 (NKJV)

In a moment's time, the best became the worst.  Jewish and Christian tradition tells us that Lucifer was an archangel of the highest order.  Isaiah 14 speaks of the King of Babylon and this individual named Lucifer.  Ezekiel 28 is about the King of Tyre.  It is obvious that they represent something deeper: the embodied evil -- Satan.  This archangel, Lucifer, was the worship leader of heaven -- the anointed cherub that covered the throne of God (Ez. 28:14).  He went from being the closest to God to being the farthest.  

God is not the author of evil, but it is obvious that He granted the freedom of choice.  Lucifer took this freedom in the wrong direction.  He conceived evil in his heart.  

The cataclysmic transformation in this archangel is breath-taking.  He went from perhaps the highest place of favor to the lowest position of judgment.  One minute he was the picture of purity and perfection.  The next he was the creator of all that is impure and despicable.  

Something happens when we cross the boundary between good and evil.  I have seen it a hundred times.  One minute a man seems to love his wife and family and is committed to a life of responsibility and integrity.  The next we find out that he has somewhere crossed a boundary and he proceeds to turn into a totally different man.  

A teenager goes off to college and turns into a different person.  Barriers are crosses.  Standards are violated.  The result is a tragic transformation.

That's what happened to Lucifer.   This beautiful creation of God became the author of evil.

When I see this, it causes me to take close care of the decisions I make.  As in Genesis 4:6, "sin lies at the door."  It desires to not only seduce us but also rule us.   When the wrong decisions are made, the dramatic fall can come with shocking speed.

Lucifer had an identity crisis.  He proceeded to seduce Adam and Eve into the very same error.  He is still in business today.  If Satan fell by crossing boundaries, we will be strong and safe by staying within the boundaries God has given us.   In so doing, we turn back Satan's strategies and we bring glory to our great God!