Right In Our Own Eyes

When we feel strongly that something’s right or wrong, how do we know we’re right? Do we just presume so, based on how strongly we feel?

HelixNebula
Helix “God’s Eye” Nebula

If we’re not consciously referencing God’s standard of right and wrong as we make moral judgments … aren’t we just making up our own? (Pr 21:2)

But isn’t God the only One Who has the right to do this? Aren’t we constantly usurping that right? Trying to put ourselves on the throne instead of God? But isn’t this Satan’s way? (Is 14:13-14)

God’s definition of sin is Torah. (1Jn 3:4) Are we hiding it in our hearts and asking Him to conform us to it? If not, what are we doing?

When God judges the world, I expect He’s going to use His own definition of sin, not ours. Wouldn’t it be tragic to face the God of Heaven and be so completely wrong about absolutely everything? (Pr 30:12) When He’s made His laws so accessible to us? What will be our defense? (Ro 3:19)

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.(Mt 7:7-8)

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Let Us Draw Near

Jehovah, being central in all things (Ro 11:36), calls us to Himself. But most of us don’t seek after God as He is (Ps 53:2-3); we’re content with shallow sentiment and ritual when our hearts are far away. (Mt 15:8)

Mt Ararat, Turkey

It’s tempting to deceive ourselves into thinking we’re close to Him (Ja 1:26), imagining a god we can be fond of (Ro 1:21), as if He were a doting grandpa or a cute puppy … when in reality He’s a consuming fire (He 12:28-29); it’s an awesome thing to fall into His hands. (He 10:31)

Being close to God is not about feeling fond of Him; it’s not in sentimentality. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” (Ps 24:3-4) If we are not pursuing holiness as a manner of life, we’re nowhere near God. (1Jn 3:10)

Let’s draw near to God! (He 10:22) Value what He values; love what He loves and hate what He hates. (Mt 16:23) Pursue truth (2Th 2:10)seek His face (Ps 27:8) and keep His commandments. (Jn 14:21) Serve Him with fear … and rejoice with trembling (Ps 2:11), humbly thanking Him for everything. (Ep 5:20)

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.(Ja 4:8-10)

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Seek My Face

God commands us to seek His face. “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” (Ps 27:8) What does this mean, and how do we do it?

Phoenix Nebula

Seeking God’s face is the seeking of God Himself: it is laying down our self to seek Another, the heart of a greater Self. It’s connecting relationally with God, abiding in Him, heart to heart, abandoning at our core all that’s not of God. (Ps 73:25)

When we look into another’s face, when eyes meet eyes, two souls meet in a way that’s not physical. There is a relational connecting, a vulnerability, a seeing that is deeply intimate.

As we behold God’s face He transforms us (2Co 3:18), to deliver us from the shame of Eden, that shrinking, that hiding that springs from the shame of sin. (Ge 3:10) God frees us of the dominion of sin, and thus from shame (Ps 119:6), so that we may look into each other, and into Him, with confidence and joy. (1Jn 2:28) This is our destiny. (1Co 13:12)

Are we content with anything besides God Himself? (Ps 42:2) Have we abandoned self-love in order to seek His face? (Jn 12:25) Are we, with every fiber of our being, distilling every place to this one? (Ps 42:1)

Are we willing to live anywhere else? Pursue anything else? (Ga 5:24) Be anything else? Not if we’re children of God. (Php 3:18-20)

With all our finding then let’s find the face of God; let’s continually behold Him (Ps 27:4), that we may both know Him (Jn 17:3) and be known by Him. (Mt 7:23) And in that great and final Day when God’s face is finally unveiled (Re 20:11), destroying all that can be destroyed (He 12:27), we will be at home. (Da 12:2-3)

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The Terror of the Lord

In all His public teaching Jesus never once mentions God’s love*, yet He speaks of Hell often and without apology. (Mt 18:9) He warns of God’s justice and wrath, and exhorts us all to fear Him (Lk 12:4-5); He’s a consuming fire. (He 12:29) The terror of the Lord is the divine default in appealing to souls (2Co 5:11), not love and compassion (Jud 1:22-23), yet we’ve lost our holy trembling. (Php 2:12)

VolcanicLightning
Calbuco Volcano Eruption

Why is God so angry with unbelievers? (Jn 3:36) He treats them like hardened criminals rather than victims. Is God unjust, or are we missing His perspective? (Is 55:8-9)

God’s anger implies the lost are without excuse (Ro 1:20-21); in our free will we’d rather rebel against God than submit to Him. (Re 16:9-11) Men glady submit to gods of their own making, but not to the God of Heaven.

I think we forget that sin harms God; it grieves Him … He hates it. (Gen 6:6) If Hell is no more than God disarming His enemies in order to end His own suffering, how can we complain against it? And if God’s heart has always been open-armed (Ro 10:21), offering His oppressors relief if they’ll just humble themselves and repent (Eze 33:11), why wouldn’t He keep doing so throughout eternity? He doesn’t change. (Ja 1:17)

From all appearances, Hell is a prison defended from within — by depraved souls and spirits who lunge at any opportunity to resist and damage a merciful, benevolent, loving God … no matter what the cost to themselves or others. If there are no victims in Hell, only deliberate fiends and devils, how is God being unjust? (Ez 33:11)

Those who know Jehovah worship Him as He is, in all His works and ways. (Re 15:3) I think it’s high time we stop apologizing for God’s anger, downplaying His indignation, vengeance, hatred and wrath. (Ps 50:21-22) He’s not being unfair; Man is. Let’s encourage joyful trembling (Ps 2:11), and as ol’ John Baptist, tearfully warn the disobedient to flee the wrath to come. (Mt 3:7-8)

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* See 1st comment below

Not Under Law

Of all the phrases used by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament, “not under law” may be the most misunderstood. Most think it means God’s laws in the Old Testament are obsolete, but context implies something very different: Paul says, “sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Ro 6:12-14)

Grace&Glory
Svolvaer, Norway

Not being under law is what causes us to overcome sin … yet sin is breaking God’s Law.  (1Jn 3:4) Paul isn’t telling us we can sin all we want now, but how being in Christ causes us to sin less and less.

The key appears to be in the contrasting phrase – under grace: experiencing the power of God as He transforms us into the likeness of Christ. (Ep 2:8,10)

As God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Php 2:13), we are no longer under law, trying to obey in our own strength, feeling only the duty and command but no empowering life, with no inclination to obey, always failing, rebelling and feeling the terror of our condemnation. Rather, we have Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col 1:27), Who delights in the law of God within us, moving in us to obey Him in spirit as well as the letter, that the righteousness of the law might be realized and fulfilled in us as we obey it from the heart. (Ro 8:4)

Jesus Christ overcame the world (Jn 16:33) and is doing it all over again in every one of His children (1Jn 5:4), delivering us from both the penalty and power of sin, giving us grace unto glory. (Php 1:6)

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My Feasts

As we approach a new year in God’s calendar (Ex 12:2), I am looking forward to celebrating with my King as He invites me to His table again … to seven glorious, heavenly feasts of the Lord.

Windsor Castle, England

When Jehovah calls them “my feasts” (Le 23:2), He seems to be saying that these eternal appointed times are for Himself as well as for us; each one an invitation to dine in person with the Almighty.

As He Himself rested on the very first Sabbath day (Ge 2:2-3), and as He promises to celebrate Passover again with us in His kingdom (Lk 22:15-16), and as all activity in the Jerusalem temple during each biblical feast mirrors that of God’s heavenly temple (He 8:4-5, 9:23), it is evident that God Himself participates in His own feasts, along with the hosts of Heaven — and that He invites us to join Him.

We can see Jehovah’s heart here in His insistence that we come to His house to participate in His feasts (Ex 34:22-24); and as it has been from the earliest days so shall it always be. (Zec 14:16) As He invited the Apostles of old (Jn 21:12), what an awesome privilege to be invited by God to come and dine with Him! (Mt 22:8-10)

Further, in characteristic fashion, these appointed times with God are not just for satisfying our fleshly appetites, but each feast is rich in spiritual food, simply chock full of spiritual and prophetic symbolism to engage our minds and hearts in His ways. (Col 2:16-17)

The message could not be any clearer: in His feasts God is inviting us into an awesome fellowship with Himself; He enjoys sharing Himself with us and engaging us in what He is doing. In this coming season of God’s calendar, let’s take every opportunity to enjoy and delight in God as He has so graciously invited us.

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Edify One Another

Why go to church? I find hiking in the mountains and looking at sunsets more worshipful; I can listen to uplifting music and sermons any time, and I learn so much more about God from just reading my Bible.

As I see it there’s only one reason to go, yet I can’t find a single church set up for it! I think we’ve totally missed God’s purpose for church and it’s hurting us all. I go and make the best of it, but I’m afraid these aren’t the churches Jesus is building (Mt 16:18); I long for His design.

God’s churches are spiritual families of brothers and sisters regularly assembling for one unique purpose: to help each other follow God. (1Th 5:11, He 10:25) It’s an extension of God Himself on Earth. (Ep 5:30) I think the early Christians got this, and it’s why they were powerful.

If we started meeting for the right reason we might find we need to change a few things … lose the fancy buildings, stop hiring musicians and pastors to entertain and sermonize us … and diluting the message so we can get people who aren’t seeking God to help pay for it all.

Maybe we’d start building relationships with people who challenge us to grow, who love us enough to humbly confront our sin … and invite us to humbly challenge theirs. Maybe we’d come to meetings with more of a sense of responsibility, more prepared to give than receive. (1Co 14:26)

Maybe we’d start teaching each other about things that matter … how to overcome sin and walk joyfully with God. Maybe we’d pray for and comfort each other more, and ask for prayer more, and maybe we’d think more soberly about salvation, eternity and holiness.

Then maybe we’d even find God Himself living in and through our churches like He used to, Christ in us, showing up in our meetings and filling us with faith and power to glorify His name. (1Co 14:24-25)

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Keep My Commandments

Every heart responds to the Creator in one of two basic ways: thankfulness and joyful obedience (Ro 6:17) — or distrust and disobedience. (Ro 1:21)

We all start out in sin, as rebels hating God (Ep 2:3), but God transforms some of us so we begin loving Him, trusting Him, thanking Him and obeying Him from the heart; He quickens our spirits to delight in His Law, (Ro 7:22) and starts writing His laws into our minds and hearts. (He 8:10) We then begin to enjoy obeying Him: a transformed nature, a new creature, is evidence of our redemption. (2Co 5:17)ButterfliesFlower

It is in obeying Jesus that we love Him: He said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments;” (Jn 14:15) we love Him by keeping His Laws (1Jn 5:3), those laws within Torah, which are all spiritual (Ro 7:22) and eternally good. (Ro 7:12)

Unfortunately, most Christians are consistently taught that certain parts of the Mosaic Law are obsolete, no longer relevant, but Jesus didn’t abolish any part of Torah and He specifically told us not to think this way (Mt 5:17-19); it’s still God’s definition of sin. (1Jn 3:4)

Though we aren’t justified by obeying God’s Law, we’re deceived in thinking we’re in a right relationship with God if we’re still willfully disobeying Him. (1Jn 2:4) We’re far from salvation if we aren’t seeking to know and obey God’s statutes (Ps 119:155); we can’t worship in truth until we’ve learned His commandments (Ps 119:7), or even be earnest in seeking salvation if we aren’t already obeying Him the best we know how. (Ps 119:176)

As we seek to make our election sure, here’s an easy litmus test: if there are parts of God’s Way we still don’t like, that we disdain and deliberately refuse to obey, then we’re deceiving ourselves, carnal, still out of step with God. (Ro 8:6-7) Though there’s definitely room for sincere ignorance (1Ti 1:13), the stubborn, willfully disobedient soul has yet to be redeemed. (Ro 2:7-9) In other words, What’s the point in pretending to be transformed … if we aren’t acting like it? (1Jn 3:7)

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Love Your Enemies

Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” (Mt 5:44) Perhaps it’s the cornerstone of all godliness, actively seeking the good of others, even those who’d harm us.

The Passion of the Christ

This is unnatural, certainly; it denies our self-protective instinct. Returning good for evil enables and strengthens our enemies to harm us even more. Yet it is our God’s example. (Mt 5:45)

Living this way as a manner of life requires an energy from another world, a Life beyond our own. It is perhaps the greatest witness of the reality of God, that we commit our physical care into His hands, just as we have our souls and spirits. (1Pe 4:19) It is only then that we live as children of our heavenly Father.

There is a time to resist abuse, and a time to suffer according to the will of God. It is the wisdom of God to tell these apart, but there is never a time to wish ill to another. (Ro 13:10) Let us not fear to follow God in suffering for His name, for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2Co 4:16-18)

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Walk Worthy

What kind of life does one lead to be counted among the 24 elders encircling God’s throne? What would that be like, a front row seat in His immediate presence, God’s inner circle, enjoying Him for eternity? (Re 4:10-11)

lighttim
Tunnel of light, Arizona

Then again, what could Jesus Christ possibly gain from inviting the likes of someone like me to sit with Him in His very throne, to rule and reign with Him? Yet this is His incredible promise to all who overcome. (Re 3:21)

But why long for a seat before the throne of God … or even a place beside Him in His throne … when I have God Himself? What more can I possibly desire when God grants me as intimate a fellowship with Himself as I can possibly stand … as if I were the only one in Heaven … for the endless eons of time? To have my God … is to have all.

What an unspeakable privilege to know this infinite, unfathomable God, and to be known of Him! (Je 9:24) Oh my soul … “that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory!(1Th 2:12) Is any way too narrow, or any path too difficult for me to walk with Christ down here, when I see Him before me at the end (He 12:2), in all of His unsearchable richness? (Ep 3:8)

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