Author: godmadeknown

Unworthy disciple of Jesus Christ, wife to my favorite fellow-adventurer, mother to 5 boys, and ravenous consumer of Honey from the Rock.

Devo 23: repost

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:9

Have you ever heard verses like the one above used to explain why we can’t understand hard texts in scripture?  Or how about this one?

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God.” Deuteronomy 29:29

What about the statement that we are too much influenced by the Enlightenment and that we need to read scripture with a Jewish mindset which was more accepting of mystery?

We might call it an acceptance of mystery.  Jesus called it spiritual blindness and rejection of what the prophets clearly foretold.

Just look at how that Deuteronomy text continues.  

BUT the things that are REVEALED belong to us and to our children forever, THAT WE MAY DO ALL THE WORDS OF THIS LAW.”  Moses then reiterates to the Israelites the blessing that would be theirs if they called to mind the commandments and the “statutes that are written in this Book of the Law” and the curse that would be theirs if they did not.  And then he makes this stunning statement in Deuteronomy 30:11-14,

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.  It is NOT IN HEAVEN, that you should say, ‘who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it  to us, that we may hear it and do it?’  NEITHER IS IT BEYOND THE SEA, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hearit and do it?’  But the word is very near you.   It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do It.”  

Is Moses not saying that what the Lord has revealed in His word, He has not made unattainable to the understanding of His people? 

If the first 5 books of the Bible were meant to be understood by God’s people so that they would obey them, why are we so quick to dismiss other portions as too mysterious for human comprehension?

Now just listen to the rest of Isaiah 55:9!  The very next verses read,

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth  and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, SO SHALL MY  WORD BE THAT GOES OUT FROM MY MOUTH;  IT SHALL NOT RETURN TO ME EMPTY,  BUT IT SHALL ACCOMPLISH  THAT WHICH I PURPOSE, AND  SHALL SUCCEED IN THE THING FOR WHICH I SENT IT.

God has sent us much more than a mystery.  He has sent us a manna -filled, purpose-succeeding Divine REVELATION!  Do you know why?

So that we would recognize in that revelation the life-giving glory of His Son, Jesus Christ.

AND SO THAT WE WOULD RENDER HIM THE WORSHIP HE IS DUE!

Oh, dear brothers and sisters, can’t you see that every time you relegate a “hard text” to the category of “unattainable mystery,” you are robbing God of the exaltation that He so deserves?

Just go back to the last post and read the texts for this week.  All of them proclaim the infinite “high-ness” of God’s thoughts and ways. 

In fact the whole Bible is the particular REVELATION OF HIS THOUGHTS AND HIS WAYS to ALL mankind concerning His son, Jesus Christ, by which WE MIGHT BE SAVED!  And where else was the magnitude of His high-ness and other-ness more on display than on the cross?

When Psalm 37:5,6 proclaims that God’s steadfast love extends to the heavens, His faithfulness to the clouds, His righteousness like the mountains, and His judgements like the deep.  Where else was the extent of His love, faithfulness, righteousness, and judgement more clearly seen than on the cross?

And again in Psalm 103:11,12 the Psalmist proclaims that not only is God’s steadfast love “as high as the heavens are above the earth” but also that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.”  How was that removal of transgressions accomplished but through the cross?

Read 1 Corinthians 2.  Yep.  The whole chapter.  I know this violates every rule in the blogosphere but it really is THAT important.  

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

Did you catch that?  Yes, there is a secret and hidden wisdom of God which was so misunderstood by those willing to write all the hard stuff off as a mystery that they “crucified the Lord of glory!”  And yes, no-one can comprehend the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God… but we have the Spirit who was from God THAT WE MIGHT UNDERSTAND THESE SPIRITUAL TRUTHS AND INTERPRET THEM!

It is this Spirit that enables Paul in Ephesians to address mystery after mystery with confidence and clarity.  In every instance the mystery itself is accompanied by an assurance that it CAN BE UNDERSTOOD!

God lavished His grace “upon us in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will (1:8,9).”  “This mystery was made known to me by revelation…when you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ (3:3,4).”  “It has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs (3:5,6).”  Grace was given to Paul to preach and “bring to light for everyone the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known (3:9,10).”  About the profound mystery of marriage Paul says confidently that it refers to Christ and the church (5:32).  He closes by asking for prayer that he would proclaim boldly the mystery of the gospel (6:19).  

Now, just listen to Paul’s prayer for the church in the same letter:

“[May] the Father of glory give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you (1:17,18).”  

Please, I urge you, when you come to a text you don’t understand, dig deeper, pray harder for enlightenment. In those depths you will only find more reason to worship the crucified and risen Christ.  The one who has been made spiritually alive need not settle for mystery.  For WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST!  Let us use it to see Him more clearly, know Him more deeply, and render Him more fervently the glory due His Name!

The Martyrs’ Psalm, part 2

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If the words of Psalm 51 spoken from a condemned girl’s lips, give us a glimpse into the heart of this teenage martyr, consider some of the other recorded words of Lady Jane Grey.  This prayer was dated shortly before her execution:

“O Lord, thou God and Father of my life, hear me, poor and desolate woman, which flieth unto thee only, in all troubles and miseries. Thou, O Lord, art the only defender and deliverer of those that put their trust in thee: and therefore I, being defiled with sin, encumbered with affliction, unquieted with troubles, wrapped in cares, overwhelmed with miseries, vexed with temptations, and grievously tormented with the long imprisonment of this vile mass of clay, my sinful body, do come unto thee, O merciful Savior, craving thy mercy and help, without the which so little hope of deliverance is left that I may utterly despair of any liberty. 

Albeit it is expedient, that, seeing our life standeth upon trying, we should be visited sometime with some adversity, whereby we might both be tried whether we be of thy flock or no, and also know thee and ourselves the better, yet thou, that saidst thou wouldst not suffer us to be tempted above our power, be merciful unto me now, a miserable wretch, I beseech thee; which with Solomon (Proverbs 30:7-9) do cry unto thee, humbly desiring thee that i may neither be too much puffed up with prosperity, neither too much pressed down with adversity, lest I, being too full, should deny thee, my God, or being too low brought, should despair and blaspheme thee, my Lord and Savior.
O merciful God, consider my misery, best known unto thee; and be thou now unto me a strong tower of defense, I humbly require thee. Suffer me not to be tempted above my power, but either be thou a deliverer unto me out of this great misery, either else give me grace patiently to bear thy heavy hand and sharp correction. It was thy right hand that delivered the people of Israel out of the hands of Pharoah, which for the space of four hundred years did oppress them and keep them in bondage. Let it, therefore, likewise seem good to thy fatherly goodness to deliver me, sorrowful wretch (for whom thy son Christ shed his precious blood on the cross), out of this miserable captivity and bondage wherein I am now.
How long wilt thou be absent? forever? O Lord, hast thou forgotten to be gracious, and hast thou shut up thy loving-kindness in displeasure? Wilt thou be no more entreated? Is thy mercy clean gone forever, and thy promise come to an end for evermore? Why dost thou make so long tarrying? Shall I despair of thy mercy, O God? Far be that from me. I am thy workmanship, created in Christ Jesu: give me grace, therefore, to tarry thy leisure, and patiently to bear thy works; assuredly knowing that as thou canst, so thou wilt deliver me when it shall please thee, nothing doubting of mistrusting thy goodness towards me; for thou knowest better what is good for me than I do: therefore, do with me in all things what thou wilt, and plague me what way thou wilt. Only in the meantime, arm me, I beseech thee, with thy armor, that i may stand fast, my loins being girded about with verity, having on the breastplate of righteousness and shod with the shoes prepared by the gospel of peace; above all things, taking to me the shield of faith, wherewith I may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked, and taking the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the most holy word: praying always with all manner of prayer and supplecation, that i may refer myself wholly to thy will, abiding thy pleasure and comforting myself in those troubles that it shall please thee to send me; seeing such troubles be profitable for me, and seeing I am assuredly persuaded that it cannot be but well, all that thou doest. 

Hear me, O merciful Father, for His sake whom thou wouldst shoud be a sacrifice for my sins: to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory. Amen.” 

What kind of life experience produces that kind of spiritual maturity in the face of persecution?  Consider these events from her history:

1536 (or 37) Lady Jane Grey is born to conniving parents Henry and Frances who in an attempt to gain access to the British throne commenced an unusual method of education with the hopes marrying their daughter off to Henry VIII’s son, Edward.

1542 Providence places Jane under the tutelage of protestant John Aylmer who instructs 6 year old Jane in Greek, Hebrew, Latin, French and Spanish and more importantly the Tyndale English Bible.  She becomes so proficient in languages that she eventually is able to correspond in Latin and Greek with noteworthy Reformers such as Martin Bucer and Heinrich Bullinger.

1545 9-year-old Jane is sent to live permanently at court as maid-of-honor to King Henry VIII’s 6th wife, Catherine Parr, a devout Christian.  There she engages in regular Bible study with other believers and comes to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.  Prince Edward also is surrounded by strong Christian influences at this time including Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer and develops a deep zeal for the protestant faith.

1547 King Henry VIII dies and 9-year-old Edward becomes King of England but quickly falls victim to scheming Uncle Edward Seymour who assumes custody and thus control of the throne.  Edward Seymour’s brother, Thomas, now married to King Henry VIII’s widow, Catherine Parr, is busy with his own schemes and convinces Jane’s father to sell her to him for 2000 pounds in exchange for a promised union with the young King Edward VI.  11-year-old Jane is now a ward of the Seymour’s and happily back under the Christian influence of Catherine.  Unfortunately, Catherine soon after dies in childbirth just before Thomas himself is beheaded for attempted kidnapping of the king.  Another conniving counselor to young King Edward VI, John Dudley, convinces Jane’s parents to transfer guardianship to himself.

1553 Dudley retains hopes of marrying his ward to King Edward VI until it becomes apparent that the young king is in fact dying of tuberculosis. So 16-year-old Jane is instead forced to marry John Dudley’s own son, Guilford.  But Dudley keeps a foot in the royal door by demanding the marriage be considered unconsummated in case the young king pulls through and an annulment can be made, freeing Jane up to marry him.  King Edward VI doesn’t pull through.  He dies just a month and a half later.  Edwards cousin, Lady Jane Grey, is proclaimed the new Queen of England by John Dudley himself.  Jane responds to her new title with these words:

“The crown is not my right, and pleaseth me not.  The Lady Mary is the rightful heir.”

Lady Jane Grey reluctantly holds the throne just over a week before her cousin Mary arrives with troops to depose her.  Queen Jane gladly hands over the crown and is thenceforth known as the 9-Days-Queen.

To be continued…

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The Martyrs’ Psalm, part 1

On February 12, 1554 a martyr mounted a London scaffolding having denounced the Catholic doctrines of salvation by works, transubstantiation, and Papal authority.  As from so many other martyrs, it was Psalm 51 heard recited from their lips before the axe fell or the tinder was lit. 

The martyr’s name was  Lady Jane Grey.

She was 17 years old.

Why Psalm 51?  Why the confession of an adulterous, murderous King on the saintly lips of this young girl and countless others willing to die for their faith?

Just read the following words and imagine them coming from a 17 year old girl with her pious head on a chopping block.

Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you may be justified in your words

and blameless in your judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,

and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,

and blot out all my iniquities.

10  Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

11  Cast me not away from your presence,

and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways,

and sinners will return to you.

14  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,

O God of my salvation,

and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

15  O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will declare your praise.

16  For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;

you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18  Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;

build up the walls of Jerusalem;

19  then will you delight in right sacrifices,

in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;

then bulls will be offered on your altar.

King David uses no fewer than 5 different terms for his acts of adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband:  transgressions, iniquity, sin, evil, and bloodguiltiness.  For these he is pleading with God for mercy, for washing, cleansing, purging, renewal, restoration, deliverance and salvation.  David confesses that the sin he was born in and continued to walk in are not just constantly visible to his own eyes but to God’s as well.  In fact, even though others suffered  deadly consequences as a result of his adultery and murder it was God Himself that David repents of sinning against.  

Like King David, Lady Jane Grey held the throne, albeit for a mere nine days, and like King David she was hunted by another monarch, only her persecutor met with ultimate success.  Neither sought the throne themselves and yet that is where their royal similarities seem to end.  Except for the thing they held most in common– the God they served.  And in her time of deepest testing, it was the failed king’s Psalm of repentance that sprang from Lady Jane Grey’s lips.

To be continued…

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