Category: 2018/19 Devos

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 Last Devo

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:1-4).”

Well friends, we’ve come to the end.  Nearly 200 star studded passages later, we’ve reached the end of the Bible, the end of the school year and thus, the end of this blog.  I’m sure there’s a handful of verses about the sun or moon or stars that we missed but in general I hope we all have a better understanding for just how clearly the heavens are declaring the glory of God and how not just the firmament, but every element of creation plays a part in the great redemptive drama writ and wrought by our Creator and King. 

From the epic beginnings of Genesis to the last Amen of Revelation these cosmic beacons gloriously fulfill their divinely appointed purpose to separate day and night, to be signs, to mark time and seasons and to give light on the earth.  Jesus Himself warned us in Luke 21:25-28 that there will be a time when the signs in the heavens will bring terror on earth.  But those who look for and long for His coming needn’t be filled with the same “fear and foreboding” when they see these things take place.  No, Jesus tells us to instead, “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

The book of Revelation describes many of those foreboding heavenly signs but opens with this amazing image of Jesus standing in the middle of the churches and holding the angels of those churches as stars in His hand.  He’s in our midst and holds our  destinies in His hand!  No matter the circumstances befalling the world around us we can stand up straight and say with confidence, “Our redemption draws near.”  The Redeemer Himself says, in the last chapter of Revelation, 

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each on for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, beginning and the end… I Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches.  I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

Did you catch that part about the churches?  Revelation doesn’t just open with Jesus standing in the midst of the churches, it ends with Jesus stating that the testimony John was given was specifically FOR the churches!  Oh how I need that testimony when I’m feeling discouraged about the messiness of church life.  Tonight, especially, as I’ve heard the pain of what brothers and sisters are experiencing in their churches, and seen the tears, and witnessed the bitter ramification of corporate wounds, and worried over the wayward path of The Bride, tonight I needed that testimony of John.  I needed to see Christ standing in her midst (Revelation 1:20).  I needed to feel the thunderous roar of the great multitude crying out,

“Hallelujah!  For the lord our God the Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready;  it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure (Revelation 19:6-8).”

I needed to hear “the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’” And I needed to straighten up and say with them, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Revelation 22:17-20).”

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen.”

Devo 30

“The night is far gone; the day is at hand.  So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Oh Paul, Paul, Paul.  What can you possibly mean by telling us to put on the armor of light?  What kind of armor is that?  Doesn’t seem like it would protect us from much.  But I have to trust Paul knew what he was talking about.  After all, according to his own testimony in Acts 9, 22 and 26, light had proven to be a pretty powerful weapon against him.

I grew up without a TV and had seen very few movies, so when we were first married Tom felt quite responsible to bring me up to speed on pop culture.  Some kids in his youth group wanted to go see a Star Trek movie so we used our date night to take them along.  The movie was stupid and I was telling the kids how disappointed I was that they didn’t even show a single “light saver battle.”  Real cool, right?  Here I was being all pop-cultured and right away I fall flat on my face by getting Star Trek and Star Wars mixed up and proving my ignorance of both.  Not to mention the fact that I didn’t even know that a lightsaber is a lightsaber, not saver.  I still have never seen a Star Wars movie but I have to say, the concept of a sword of light is a fascinating one to me.  

My husband tells me, and my friend Rachel confirms, that in the Star Wars series there exists what’s called the “dark side” and sometimes you don’t know which side people are on.  Rachel says anyone who knows Star Wars will understand the following picture as an example.

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That is not the way it’s supposed to be in the church.  When you, like Paul, are literally slain by The Light of the world and given new life in Him, there should be no more confusion as to which side you’re on.  People should not be surprised to find out in season 3 of your life that you’ve actually been a Christian all along.  When Paul tells us to put on the armor of light, I think he might be talking less about a combative or defensive piece of weaponry or warfare, and more of an identifying uniform.  

Kind of like my boys’ hockey jerseys.  When the Hartland Yeti ordered jerseys, players got two versions: white and dark navy.  When they play a game, each team is either in a light uniform or a dark uniform so that in this fast-paced game it’s easy to tell whose team a player is on when they skate by you in a blur.  There should be no confusion as to who the opponent is when you’re in the battle.  

Take Paul’s other reference to the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20.  He encourages Christians to be strong in the strength of the Lord’s might so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil, the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces of evil over this present darkness. In fact, Paul describes our battle four times in this passage as simply standing.  Put on all this armor, he says, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness with the gospel, the shield fo faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, and then stand firm.  

What kind of tactic is that?  And is it a successful one?  Think about it!  Where is Paul writing this battle plan from?  Verse 20 tells us that he’s in chains!  He’s a prisoner!  In the end, he and every single one of the disciples die wearing this armor of God.  So was it effective?  Well, yes if it was designed to designate the wearer as one of Christ’s own!  When you put on the armor of light, you are identifying yourself as being on God’s side.  You are on the Light Team.  And that my friends, makes you Target #1 to the Dark Team.  

You don’t put on the armor of light so that you won’t be attacked by the enemy.  You put on the armor of light so that the enemy and everyone else will know whose side you are on.  And that just might mean chains, imprisonment and death like it did for Paul, the other apostles and hundreds of thousands of other Christians since then.   When you put on the uniform of the Light Team and take a stand as one of God’s own, you are automatically defeating the devil’s schemes.  How?  Because you are bringing glory to God and that is a tactic that always wins. 

So what does that kind of stand look like practically?  Paul gives us some great examples in Ephesians 4:17-5:21 when he calls believers to walk as children of light.  “The fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.”  It looks like a renewed mind, “a new self created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness,” speaking the truth, being angry and not sinning or letting the sun go down on it, giving no opportunity to the devil, honest work, sharing with those in need, redeemed, talk that builds up and gives grace, kindness, tenderness, forgiveness, love, sacrifice,  thankfulness, wise, understanding God’s will, filled with the Spirit, singing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with one another to the Lord, always thankful for everything, submitting to one another and reverent.  That’s the jersey of the Light Team.

Here’s Paul’s description of the Dark Team:  futility of mind, darkened understanding, alienated from the life of God, ignorant, hard of heart, callous, sensual, greedy, impure, “corrupt through deceitful desires,” bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slanderous, malicious, sexually immoral, impure, covetous, filthy, foolish talk, crude joking, covetous,  idolatrous, unwise, foolish, drunkenness and debauchery.  

Now unlike, my boys’ hockey jerseys, you can’t just switch the armor of light back and forth with the kingdom of darkness.  You are either standing on God’s side or you are with the enemy.  If you can’t tell if someone’s on God’s team or not, they’re probably not.  Which jersey are you wearing?  Do you have Christ’s colors emblazoned on your soul?  Are you willing to stand there, come what may?  It might mean chains, imprisonment or death, but that my friends, is victory.

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