Before I Was Afflicted

Resentment: bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly, a feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury.

Do I feel resentment toward God for allowing bad things to happen to me? He could have stopped it, arranged for life to work out differently, to be free of pain and trouble. Do I hold this against Him? Does it impact my love for Him, my ability to trust Him?

My afflictions have a purpose: “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” (Ps 119:67) The harm I’ve felt, and the troubles I’ve endured have been good for me: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (Ps 119:67) Confessing, “I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me,” (Ps 119:75is to agree that God is sovereign, justgood and faithful.

My alternative is to believe that I know better than God, that my perspective is better than His, that He’s shortsighted, selfish, unjust. I cannot rejoice in the Lord from here. It’s the old man.

How can I know what I would have been like without pain? What do I base my presumption on? My tendency towards pride and selfishness requires God to break me. (He 12:6-28) Which of the fathers of our faith lived lives of ease and pleasure? I have nothing.

In suffering the enemy tempts us to bitterness and resentment, so we should be careful in watching over each other, praying for each other lest anyone fail of God’s grace (He 12:15), reminding each other to prayerfully and joyfully confess: “Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.” (Ps 119: 65

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War with the Saints

The enemy is at war with the saints (Re 13:7); we’re in a continuous spiritual battle. (Ep 6:11-12) The basic dynamic in this war isn’t what I was taught, and it’s quite simple: wrong beliefs give the enemy spiritual ground (2Ti 2:25-26), believing the truth takes it back. (Jn 8:32)

The enemy’d have us believe there’s a LOT more to it than this, but he’s the father of lies (Jn 8:44), so why listen to him?

Think of spiritual ground as territory in our minds and hearts defined by our beliefs. The enemy has jurisdiction wherever we’re holding a lie (Ep 4:27); it gives him access to influence our thought patterns, motives, emotions and will to bring us into bondage, alienate us from God, and destroy us. This ground is called a carnal mind (Ro 8:7-8), the flesh (Ga 5:17), and our old man(Ep 4:22)

Repentance is replacing lies with truth (2Ti 2:25); it recaptures spiritual ground and sets us free. (2Ti 2:26)

Getting hold of this changes everything. Wrong beliefs produce wrong attitudes, motives, and actions which alienate us from God and create spiritual, mental, emotional and physical bondage in our lives. (Ja 1:13-16) Truth then becomes infinitely precious: we buy the truth and sell it not (Pr 23:23); we seek it out, obey it and never let it go; it’s the key to freedom. (Ep 6:14)

In warring against us, the enemy is relentless in presenting lies to us in various forms: wrong teaching, emotional impulse, physical and emotional trauma, all with the purpose of gaining more ground, more control in our lives to destroy us. (Jn 10:10) This is how he works in the children of disobedience, who accept his suggestions as their own and act on them. (Ep 2:2) It’s how we all started out. (Ep 2:3)

To maintain the ground he already has, the enemy protects it with strongholds, irrational emotional ties to deception, moving us to feel comfort, pleasure, safety and security in our lies (Pr 9:17), and to feel deeply threatened by any challenge to them. (Ge 19:9) He does this because he has no other defense; lies cannot be upheld with a divine moral standard or with truth, only by other lies and our emotional attachments to these lies. They’re easy to spot: intense and intrinsically irrational, rooted in and springing from an innate hatred of God and His Law. (Ps 2:1-3)

No challenge to a belief threatens our well being: when an idea makes us feel defensive or fearful we have a stronghold guarded by the enemy. To love the truth, to be earnestly seeking it out wherever we can find it, and constantly shining the light of God’s moral standard, Torah (1Jn 3:4), on all of our beliefs and attitudes so that we might be fully aligned with Him throughout our entire being (1Jn 3:3), is to expose and disable all our enemy strongholds. (2Co 10:3-5)

Then, taking the sword of the Spirit, as God gives us understanding, repentance and faith, we may freely and relentlessly expose enemy ground and take it back (2Th 2:13), gaining progressively more and more freedom in our spiritual lives. (Ps 119:45)

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Rejoice in the Lord

YHWH. Jehovah God. The infinite, unchanging (Ja 1:17), omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Creator. Matchless in beauty, infinite in wisdom and understanding (Ps 147:5), unwavering in truth. (Tit 1:2) He cannot learn; He cannot risk in hope: He knows.

Orion Nebula, Hubble

He inhabits eternity (Is 57:15), ever present in all places at every moment of time (2Pe 3:8), both within and beyond time and space, knowing all, pervading all, all powerful.

He made the stars (Ge 1:16), arranging them in countless, gigantic, spectacular galaxies, and calls them all by name (Ps 147:4) as they each uniquely proclaim His glory (Ps 19:1), His exquisite, eternal, infinite majesty. (Ps 96:6)

He is infinitely sovereign, in absolute control of everything all the time. (Da 4:35) He always works everything according to His own will. (Ep 1:11)

He’s relational, in Himself a flawless divine community (Ge 1:26), in perfect delight and harmony within Himself (Jn 17:5), needing nothing and no one (Ps 50:12), welcoming every sentient being to come to Him and enjoy Himself. (Re 22:17)

He’s created each of us uniquely in His own image (Ge 1:27) to express some nuance of the divine nature, giving us meaning, purpose and intrinsic value, loving us unconditionally (Jn 3:16) and individually. (Jn 13:1) Though we’re all born at enmity with Him (Ep 2:1), He’s reaching out to every one of us in the mystery of the gospel to reconcile us to Himself, regardless what we’ve thought or done. (2Co 5:19)

He has revealed Himself though perfect Law (Ps 19:7), a living expression of His love and justice (He 4:12) in the context of human brokenness (Mt 22:37-40), revealing and exposing as corrupt all that is contrary to His nature. (Ro 8:7)

He has also revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, Himself the godhead incarnate. (Col 2:9) God Himself condescended to become one of His own creatures, one of us, to show us exactly what He’s like (Jn 14:9), willing to die for His enemies (Ro 5:10), enduring His own justice on our behalf, receiving us into His family and adopting us as His own (1Jn_3:1), if we would just be willing to receive Him. (Jn 1:12)

He’s perfectly just, no respecter of persons (Ac 10:34), and yet He’s infinitely merciful (Ps 103:17), benevolent and kind (Lk 6:35), even offering us the strength to obey Him if we’ll have it; He will never turn anyone away who’s diligently seeking Him (He 11:6), and will eternally terrify (2Co 5:11) all who won’t. (Mt 25:46)

He’s made many, many amazing promises (2Pe 1:4), and He’s never broken one. He’s perfectly faithful; He will never leave us nor forsake us. (He 13:5)

Regardless where I am, who I’m with, or what’s happening to me or around me, I can always rejoice in the eternal infinitude of God, beholding His beauty (Ps 27:4), feeding in His majesty, being delighted in, awed by and overcome with the perfection of His Way.

The almighty, eternal God repeatedly commands me to rejoice in Him, and to persist in this, always. (Php 4:4) He will have it no other way; He’s made me to exult in Him: enjoying God is the singular fuel of the human soul, joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1Pe 1:8)

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When He Shall Appear

We’re to abide in Christ, so that when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. (1Jn 2:28)

How we imagine we’ll feel at His appearing isn’t the point, it’s how we’ll actually feel: shame or confidence. If we’re following a false Jesus (2Co 11:4), our anticipation of our response is as much in error.

So, what do we have now that’s the most like Jesus Christ? I’d say Torah, God’s commandments, is the best we have; they’re His testimonies about Himself, revealing His mind and heart, His way, His Truth, His life. We measure any likeness of Jesus Christ by its standard. (1Jn 3:4)

A king’s heart is revealed in His laws. Imagine Mosaic Law returning in the clouds, the Torah alive, deified: this, on moral and character grounds, is indistinguishable from the heart of Jesus Christ.

If we don’t know God’s Law, we don’t know Him; if we don’t delight in His law (Ro 7:22), we don’t love Him and we’ll be cursed when He comes. (1Co 16:22) Only those who obey Him are born of Him. (1Jn 2:29)

How we respond to our God’s Law is, I think, how we’ll respond to Him. Are we treasuring it (Ps 119:111), hiding it in our hearts like He told us to (De 6:6), and meditating on it all the time? (Jos 1:8) This is what abiding in Him looks like; it’s how He walked. (1Jn 2:6)

All the tribes of the earth will mourn when Jesus Christ returns (Mt 24:30); they can’t submit to His law. (Ro 8:7) His saints will rejoice in Him, just as they rejoice in His law. (Ps 119:127) To abide in Him, that we not be ashamed before Him at His coming, is our heart being sound in His statutes. (Ps 119:80)

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