Our Father Who Art in Heaven… Prayer 3

“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” Luke 11:2

Prayer begins when we realize who it is that we approach, and what our relative relationship to Him is. The epistle to the Hebrews puts it this way,

Without Faith it is impossible to please Him, for those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek him…” (Hebrews 11:6)

Thus the opening of the Lord’s prayer, (the invocation) is given to us in simple and spare Words, but which would take an eternity to unpack. Saphir makes this comment ;

“Let this first impression remain the deepest and most prominent. God wishes to fill our hearts with childlike confidence and love, that we may approach him, to use Luther’s expression,’as dear children to their dear Father.” ( Lord’s Prayer, Saphir, Adolph)

With this opening, “Our Father…” we address the LORD of the Universe as Father. This opens to us the application of an entire theology of the Fatherhood of God. God is the Father of those who believe in Jesus. He has adopted us and given us the Spirit of adoption.

From new birth on, the primal cry of the new Christian is “Abba, Father!”. We who are saved cry out to God instinctively as “Father” even if we do not know anything else to say. We have been brought into the family, by Jesus himself, who is the “only begotten” Son of God, and who is never ashamed to call us ‘brothers’.

For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.( Hebrews 2:11-12)

We know that in the crucifixion of Jesus, the veil of the temple was ripped from top to bottom, thus signifying, that Heaven has been opened to us, and that we who believe have access to it. So we pray, “Our Father who art in Heaven…”. This prayer leads us directly into heaven, where we have an audience with the Father.

We acknowledge as the book of Ecclesiastes teaches us, that God is above us and we are here below (for the present),

Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

True prayer is also a constant “upward look”, for in it we are lifting our eyes and hopes and even our affections to God in Heaven. Man alone among all creatures is spiritual, ie he has the ability to “look up” in that sense, and to commune with God. It is sin which strips us of the ability to do so, and instead turns our gaze downward into sorrow, fear, self absorption, depression and guilt.

A German Pastor, writing shortly after the catastrophe of the First and Second World Wars made this observation, in his book, called “The Lord’s Prayer”, about looking up to God in heaven

“At any rate no other generation within living memory has looked up to heaven by day and by night as we have.(Speaking of the terror of air raids and bombings). Strange though it may seem, it is a long time since this generation was afraid of what comes from above, and we had long ago forgotten what it was like to long for help from above.

Does it not give us food for thought that this ‘heaven-less generation” who had only a superior, pitying smile left for the blessing that comes from above, come to fear that they should expect death or life from above, whether they wanted to or not?

But in view of the rediscovery of the heavens beyond us, we cannot suppress the quiet wish: If only this generation would reach the stage of rediscovering the real Heaven. Not the sky of the night fighter, and the death laden bomber, but the heaven of Angels, the Heaven of God, the Heaven of the Ascension,that heaven that Christ means when He teaches us to pray: “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” (The Lord’s Prayer, Luthi Walter)

Our generation also has forgotten to look up to heaven. We think we are too advanced in our technology and so called progress in the humanities to look up for help from above. Ironically ours is also a “fatherless” Generation, religiously speaking.

But the Words of Jesus are addressed to this generation as well as to any other, that we too, must again look up to God as Father, in heaven, as our fathers did in olden times.

Also, We must see that our problems are so profound that there can be no earthly, man centered answer to them, the answer must come from above, and outside of us. Heaven alone can help us!

The simple words given us by Jesus, in which to address God, as Father, also teach us that there is a sanctuary above us, a Holy place, the dwelling place of God, which has been opened up to us. There is a throne there, but it is a throne of Grace and Mercy and surely we will find our help there, in the time of need.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. ( Hebrews 4:16)

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Pray in This Manner… Prayer pt 2

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.(Matthew 6:6-9)

In Jesus’ teaching on prayer, not only the Words of prayer are emphasized, but also, and perhaps primarily, the Spirit of prayer is taught.

First of all, Prayer is not a performance, for we have an audience of One. True prayer is intimacy, as Matthew’s version points out, it has to do with your secret life. It is so often the laying bare of our soul, to God. We appeal to the “Father who sees in secret”, bringing our needs, problems and trials unto Him who knows the very secrets of our hearts. Thus we go into our closet, for there is a place in our soul that only we know about, and God.

This is not to say we never pray in public, for the model prayer begins “Our Father”, there is a very public and corporate aspect to prayer. We pray together, as the body of Christ. I learned prayer by praying with other, spiritual people.

True prayer presupposes a loving, filial relationship. God is the Father. “If you being evil, know how to give gifts to your children, how much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him…”. It is the privilege of every born again believer to know God as Father, and to appeal to Him as His child.We will have more to say about God as Father in a future article.

The prayer that our Lord taught us is brimming with reverence and fear mixed with adoration. We look up to Him who is above, we know him as a loving Father, and we are aware that His requests and agenda are superior to our own personal needs in priority. We train our souls to want what He wants, and to long for his Kingdom and Will to be done, seen and glorified here on earth. The whole point seems to be the alignment of our soul with His.

The Spirit of prayer is humility. In this teaching on prayer, one senses the cultivation of an utter sense of desperate need for God, in our lives. What we are to ask for, presupposes that we are in constant and ongoing need for it; Daily bread, forgiveness of sins, power to forgive those who hurt us, and deliverance from temptation and evil.

We cannot presume on ‘daily bread’ in this wilderness of a world, we must make ourselves a supplicant, humble ourselves and ask for it. Even if we have a high paying job, and are tempted to imagine that we are beyond ‘hand to mouth’ existence, we are only fooling ourselves. God is the source and it is at his pleasure that we are able to maintain the skills and abilities to feed ourselves. “Give us this day our daily bread…”.

“…Lead us not into temptation”, for now we know that none of us are ever so very far from defection, and the very departure from the faith that the Apostle often warned about.

The entire tone of the LORD’s prayer is that of a supplicant, in reliance upon his LORD. He knows he lives in a world of evil, and in the “Evil day” and thus he prays “Deliver us from evil”.

The Prayer Jesus taught us is also full of faith. We are taught to know how vulnerable we are in this world, but we are also assured of the Goodness and greatness of God. He is our Father, He cares, so much does He care that He sent His Son to give us these requests.

Not only do we want these things, He wants us to want these things as well. What assurance!

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.( I John 5:14-15)

Thus the Spirit of prayer according to Jesus is also one of Faith, and Hope. Biblical Hope is not mere wishing, it is rather an absolute assurance. Faith is “substance”, ie solid ground. Since Jesus is the one who brought this prayer to us, we are standing on solid ground when we incorporate it into our souls.

Without Faith it is impossible to please Him, for they who come to God must believe that HE is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

The Spirit of prayer is a childlike Spirit also. We are to come as a child, to the Father. To quote Saphir again,

There is in all of us a secret feeling of reverence and affection towards the days of our childhood….then we were free from care and anxiety; ambitious thoughts did not then alternate with despondency and fear; sin had not yet become the tyrant, exercising dominion over us; there was a certain peace and , purity and contentment, which have returned to us , not in the course of nature, but by the gift and new creation of Grace…The influence of the world is to lead us far away from the spirit and temper of childhood… (Saphir Adolph, The Lord’s Prayer)

How true it is that one of the great gifts of the new birth is deliverance from the cynicism, the disappointed self-consciousness, and the skepticism of adulthood. Little children are able to believe, they can be taught, and led, and have a simple trust in God, Heaven and are not full of pride and self importance.

The LORD’s prayer seems resonant with those very characteristics, there is something beautiful, unspoiled and childlike in it.

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Jesus teaches us… The basic teaching on Prayer pt 1

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.( Luke 11:1)

I really want to give you, my dear readers, the best possible teaching on the most practicable and usable subject…prayer.

How we need prayer! We need to develop a steady communion with God in these last days. There are so many soul deadening distractions, and so much to clutter and even to crowd out the inner life. There is so much more temporal gratification to reading articles, watching Youtube, and entertaining ourselves with out little computers and other modern implements of distraction.

Prayer is not carnally gratifying. Let’s face it. Prayer is death of self, and death to the World, it requires us to say no to ourselves, especially those impulses to entertain or amuse ourselves.

But prayer is to the Spiritual life, as breathing is to the physical. We need God. We need to know the sense of God, and to have the touch of God on our lives. We desperately need to know the secret joy of answered prayer.

Luke 11 is a priceless gift to us, from the LORD himself, because it is the basic teaching of Jesus on prayer. In it Jesus takes us through the basic teaching on communion with God, in response to a request from one of the disciples,”Lord, Teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples”.

There is a devotional author of the previous century, named Adolph Saphir who has written a wonderful book on prayer, called “The Lord’s Prayer”, by which I have benefitted greatly. I highly recommend it and will draw from it as necessary in this teaching.

Saphir starts the book out by explaining why it is that Jesus is uniquely qualified to teach us prayer.

Jesus has a perfect knowledge of God’s character, and purpose, (being God). Jesus is completely sympathetic with all that God the Father requires of men. At the same time, Jesus has a perfect knowledge of man; his condition, needs and wants. Jesus knows us, and in all of our weakness, ignorance and contradiction, Jesus is perfectly sympathetic with all of us.

To quote Saphir,

Who knows God the father, but the only begotten Son, the true and faithful witness, who is himself the brightness of his glory, the revelation of His name and will? He who was with the Father from all eternity, reveals unto us God, and possessing the full and perfect knowledge of the Father’s will and character, is able to teach us what petitions are according to God’s will and glory…” ( The Lord’s Prayer, Saphir, Adolph Keren Ahvah Meshihit. Jerusalem)

Jesus is also supremely qualified to teach us prayer. to quote Saphir again,

“In like manner, Jesus only knows us. To know man, all that is in man, is only possible to One who is the perfect man. He must be the true representative of man, the exponent of humanity, the embodiment of the divine ideal of man.None but Jesus can justly call himself the Son of man… Separate He was from sinners, and yet for that very reason His knowledge of our state, our heart, our wants, our difficulties, our sorrows, our temptations our, destiny, is perfect. And as his knowledge is perfect, his sympathy his perfect, his love infinite, his tenderness unspeakable.”( ibid)

God Himself appointed Jesus as the Mediator, the High Priest, as well as the teacher of Prayer. The specific petitions of the LORD’s prayer in Luke 11, come from the very one who left Heaven, became a man, and was sent by God to be the friend of sinners.

God knows what He wants, and He also knows what man needs. Thus we can have full confidence that the requests given us by Jesus in the Lord’s prayer are fully in the will of God.

On the other hand, we men are so estranged from God, and for the most part ignorant of the ways and desires of the LORD, due to the fall of man and the corruption of our nature. We need to be taught of God, to pray to him. This is what makes the LORD”s prayer such a precious gift of a teaching.

Jesus was not the first one in scripture to literally give us the Words to Prayer. Hosea 14 comes to mind, where the LORD in his longing for faithless Israel to return to him in humility and to receive forgiveness and restoration. The Prophet is told to give the people the very Words to say to God,

O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.( Hosea 14:1-4)

God so wants communion with man, He condescends to teach us the very Words, and petitions to make unto Him.

Jesus not only teaches us prayer, He is Prayer…. Think about that.

Psalm 109:4 are the Words and thoughts of the Messiah. Saphir, who was a Hebrew Speaking Messianic Jew, asserts that the words of the 109th Psalm literally say, “…I am prayer”.

The Messiah is prayer. His entire earthly life was communion with God. His mission was Mediation. Even now, his life is constant intercession. The cross is prayer. It is the only acceptable human offering to God. “If you make his Life an offering for sin…” says the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. How is it that christians have offered prayer for centuries? Always ,”In the name of Jesus…”.

The only way we can ever be acceptable to God is by the offering of Jesus. We sing the song, “Just as I am, without one plea, but that they blood was shed for me…”, if that isn’t prayer what is?

We will be looking in small chunks at Jesus’ teaching of prayer. I hope you will join us.

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Israel’s Deliverance… Psalm 130 meditations 4

Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (Psalm 130:7-8)

Israel is a microcosm of the entire human race.What is true of her, is true also of the human race, thus this Psalm is Her cry, and is a promise for her future. On a personal level it applies to all of us, but Israel is in view here.

Every experience in this Psalm is the experience of Israel. It is she who cries “Out of the depths”, time and again. Many of the Psalms testify to her heart cries for deliverance and restoration. Israel is in the depths, for she has many enemies, and has been exiled by God for her sins.

In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper. Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.  I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.( Psalm 120)

Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say:  Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me. The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows. The Lord is righteous: he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.(Psalm 129:1-4)

Israel is soon to find out again, that God forgives the sins of those who turn to Him.

Finally it is Israel who waits for the long night of exile to pass and for the morning to break forth. (We too wait for the dawning of the new day, the age of Righteousness and the Millenium which will soon dawn.

But first the darkest part of the night… . The end of the world is pictured over and over again as a siege round about Jerusalem, and the enemies of God, uniting to annihilate the Jews once and for all time.

Jeremiah calls it ,”the time of Jacob’s trouble”,

Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.( Jeremiah 30:6-9)

People say, “It is always darkest before dawn…” and that is certainly true of the Eschaton, the End of time as we have known it. Just as the patriarch Jacob wrestled for his very life, in the dead of the night, finally realizing that He had been fighting God all along, and eventually just clinging to God, so shall Jacob’s offspring come to just such a crisis, shortly before the end of this Age.

 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. (Zechariah 12:1-3)

But God shall indeed redeem Israel in her darkest hour, and He shall show her plenteous redemption and Mercy. Something wonderful happens in Israel’s final conflict, God reveals himself to her, (Just as He has done for so many of us Gentiles), showing her the pierced hands and feet of her King Messiah, and causing her to re-evaluate a brother whom she had long ago rejected and cast aside,

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. ( Zechariah 12:10)

Just as the sons of Israel had failed to recognize their own brother, Joseph, when they were in Egypt, until he revealed himself to their utter shock and amazement, once again they will be confronted to another brother whom they had cast away… Jesus. But He will come to the in the darkness of the last terrible night, and Israel shall be redeemed.

In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.( Zechariah 13:1)

A fountain for cleansing shall be opened to her, that many of we gentiles are familiar with, for we sing of it, with grateful hearts and trembling lips,

There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains,
Lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

Finally the national sin shall be forgiven and the Prodigal Son will be restored again, with sandals and ring! Finally Israel shall be re-instated as priest and teacher to the whole world! It shall be nothing less than resurrection from the dead for this sin sick World.PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM!

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Jordan Peterson’s Soul Pain…

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? (Proverbs 1:20-22)

Wisdom cries out in the streets. There are many ways in which she does this, but one way Wisdom cries out, is in popular current culture and events. I believe that if anyone has ears to hear, they will perceive and perhaps even be able to interpret what Wisdom is crying out about.

A Jungian Psychologist and Canadian University professor, Jordan Peterson went from relative obscurity, to being a well known and highly sought after lecturer.

The reasons for this are manifold, but two come to mind; Peterson refused to be forced into using a “preferred pronoun” in a filmed confrontation with transgender people on Campus.

Secondly Peterson became famous for a series of lectures on Bible stories. He gave them a Jungian interpretation. These lectures have been seen by millions and have proven to be wildly popular.

In the little clip below Peterson has a very emotionally tormenting moment while discussing Christ. Jordan does not claim to be Christian, as a Jungian, He believes that all “myths” are significant, but that the Bible is the supreme “Myth” and is culturally important whether it is objectively true or not.

However, as you will see, the person of Christ is so attractive and otherworldly to Peterson, He doesn’t know what to do with him. He is troubled that He finds himself believing in Christ on some level, and doesn’t know how to ‘process’ that.

I (and a lot of other people) find Peterson’s career and even his travails (which he has allowed to be publicly known) to be very interesting and perhaps even significant.

This man is an academic, has been an Atheist throughout his career, and He is a devoted Jungian. He has been trained to think about metaphysical and spiritual matters in Jungian terms. He recognizes the symbolic, he studies comparitive religion and ancient mythology, but it is obvious that the person of Christ really touches him.

He believes that people need these “symbols” and “Archetypes” from “the narrative realm”, (The story world of religion, myths and even fables) and that they have relevance, even if they have no connection to the “objective world”, ie the real, concrete world.

But Peterson seems to be realizing that Jesus Christ touched both worlds, that Jesus lived in history and that he cannot be relegated to the world of archetypes and myths that people like Peterson are too enlightened to actually believe in, and to worship. As you can see this touches Peterson deeply and it troubles him as well.

Peterson’s interviewer, Jonathan Pageau, is a Greek Orthodox, icon carver, who has a well known podcast called “the Symbolic World”, and is trying to evangelize Peterson, or at least engage with him on Peterson’s level.

I found the original whole interview interesting, although I have problems with Pageau’s evangelistic emphasis. ( I love Pageau and often find his takes interesting, and applaud him for trying to reach Peterson.) .

To put a complicated topic in a simple box. my problems are twofold, I don’t understand why Pageau keeps talking about “hierarchy” of reality and symbolism. It could be me, perhaps I am not intellectually able to understand, but when a very intelligent man is crying in agony of soul because he is haunted by the very beauty of Christ, the concept of ‘hierarchy’ seemed to be strange direction to point him to.

My other problem is that Pageau kept trying to get Peterson to accept “Theosis”, the Greek Orthodox teaching that in the big picture, God is bringing those who believe in Him to participation in ‘godhood’. This is false doctrine.

Peterson is obviously in very much spiritual pain, and I would call on all of us to pray for his salvation.

One of the problems I see with Peterson, is that as an intellectual and highly regarded professor, and as someone who is literally being credited with bringing people to the Bible and even to faith in Christ, through his Jungian lecture series; is that He is an ‘expert’ on spirituality.Peterson even questioned openly in the interview, why it is that so many have come to a re-appreciation of the Bible thru his lectures, when there are so many churches and preachers who should have been doing that very thing.

One cannot come to know Christ, as an ‘expert’, Therefore Peterson is doubly tormented. He ‘knows’ so much more than so many about religion and the Bible and even Christ… but he also knows that He doesn’t really know Christ and is not even sure that he believes in Him.

The Words of Jesus come to mind,

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.( Matthew 11:25)

Oh that Peterson could ‘know nothing’ and know that he knows nothing!

Secondly in the entire hour and a half interview the issue of sin as a personal reality, and the true moral guilt that we all need to be saved from, never came to light.

I love Jordan Peterson, and find him interesting, and I see why so many hundreds of thousands of University students absolutely either love or hate him, but He is a sinner (as I am) and needs to know that.

I think it occurred to me that Peterson is somewhat comfortable discussing the existence of God with a Sam Harris or other noted atheists, and He is fine, sitting with a Greek Orthodox Symbologist, speaking of the “narrative world” as opposed to the “Objective world” and speaking of Christ as a perfect “Archetype”.

But for Peterson to entertain the idea of Christ being a real person, in the real world, and of Christ himself studying the soul of Peterson is unnerving and troubling to Peterson as you can see on the tape.

As another one of Peterson’s influences, Frederich Neitsche once said, “If you look into the Abyss long enough, it starts looking into you…”. If that is true of the Abyss, how much more is it true of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord and Savior, whose eyes are of fire?

I welcome any thoughts or feedback…

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Our Vigil ; waiting for the Morning… Psalm 130 pt 3

I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. (Psalm 130: 5-6)

The Psalmist cries “out of the depths” to the One who is above and who hears. No matter how deep the abyss, God sees and cares. He wants to hear you cry out to him for mercy and deliverance.

We can cry out in confidence, even though we know that we are sinners, for the simple reason that God forgives sin. He doesn’t “mark iniquity” he is willing and able to clear our slate, and to give any sinner, no matter how vile, a new beginning. Remember that one of the concluding verses of the Bible, has the Creator proclaiming, “Behold I make all things new…”.

God forgives, freely, those who confess their sins to him, and who simply ask Him for forgiveness.

Now the Psalmist, with all of the Saints throughout time and up to the present, is in the position of waiting for the LORD.

Forgiveness is awesome, and is an absolutely astonishing gift. But it is also the open door to the even greater universal purpose of God, for all of his creation. From “If any man is in Christ is a New Creation…” unto “Behold I make all things new…” God is working out his purposes, in time.

So we wait. Our waiting is not mere idle time passing, we are waiting upon the LORD as servants, taking our place in the purposes of God. This involves seeking the LORD for direction, participation in the life of the local church, and living in a world which we no longer have an affinity to, having been born again, into a New Creation.

We are in between two worlds, passing each other, going a different direction. The Apostles and Prophets knew of two epochs, “This present age” and “The age to come”. which is also called “the regeneration… ” by Jesus.

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.( Matthew 19:27-28)

This age is ending…The sun is going down upon it, for it is an age of sin, failure, decay and death. The only positive about this age is that men can find Redemption, forgiveness and can be recreated in order to participate in the New Creation. Jesus died in order for this to be granted us.

Thus our problem is that we are children of the Age to come, and yet we are here in this age, waiting.

We are waiting for the dawn of the new age, the day of the LORD and the Messianic Kingdom to come to fully come to the earth. In a way we are part of the vanguard.

We are a lot like Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead.

When Jesus called his name, at the graveyard, Lazarus came forth, and stood in the opening of the tomb. For those brief few moments, He stood between two worlds. Behind Lazarus was death, decay, grave clothes, the realm of sorrows and shadows, and of bitter regrets.

Before Lazarus was the land of the Living, fresh clean air, his living loved ones, flowers, hopes, anticipation, etc.

But he stood between those two worlds, waiting for the removal of his grave clothes.

In this Psalm, the God fearer in this world is likened unto a watchman waiting for the dawn of the morning. He longs for the day to break, for the light to arise and for the end of night. But it is still night so he waits.

Paul wrote on this in the eighth chapter of Romans, and He says that the believer is joined in his waiting by all of Creation itself,

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:18-23)

We see in this passage, Paul’s breakdown of the two ages mentioned earlier, Paul talks about “…the sufferings of this present time…”, contrasting our day with the day of Glory, soon to be revealed.

All of Creation itself, (literally, everything, Animals, plants, lands and Seas…all creation!), was subject to vanity, ie ‘futility’, when mankind fell. Things break down, they rot, they rust they die, there is rust and decay and breakdown constantly. Nothing is as it was originally created. God did this when we fell so that man, in his fallen state, could never feel like He can have a complete life in this age. We are to want the age to come.

We groan, as does creation. Paul likens it to the birth of a child. First comes labor, pain, water breakage, blood, transition, then birth. We wait for the baby, and go through all of the above, in hope of the day to come.

The “baby” we all wait for, is the Age of Messiah, the full coming of the Kingdom, the Millenium.

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If God Marked Iniquities… Psalm 130 a meditation pt 2

If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 130:3-4)

The Psalmist is crying out to God, from “out of the depths”. Those “depths” can be manifold; fear, depression, persecution, pain, and a whole host of other possible sorrows and pains that are so abundant in this fallen world.

But underneath all of them, and what makes the endurance of any of them so very insufferable, is guilt.

If you marked Iniquity…who could stand? All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and we know it, (even if we don’t know it). Our conscience accuses us, and tells us that we are estranged from God. The Psalmist tells us in the first Psalm, “Sinners will not stand in the congregation of the Righteous…”

This is what makes the ultimate “depth”, ie DEATH, so unbearable. The Epistle of Hebrews tells us that all of us are subject to the fear of death, because of our sin, and mortality. We dread death, because men know by instinct that death is associated with sin, it is the penalty for sin, imposed by the Holy and Just God.

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.( Hebrews 2:14-15)

The “Fear of Death” encompasses far more than the fear of Physical death.

Death comes in a thousand forms; rejection, betrayal, loneliness, sickness, pain, loss of love, family, the death of loved ones, I could go on and on. The Devil controls people through the fear of death, using guilt and insecurity as leverage against them. Many people participate in various sins, because they don’t want to “miss out” on this or that experience, that they think enhances their life.

Guilt makes death exceptionally terrifying. People deny it, ignore it, euphamize it, and or ridicule it, in order to seek to bring it under control. Deep down inside they know they are guilty, sinners and do not want to face God.

…But with You there is forgiveness… The Psalmist can face it, because of what He knows of God.

God does indeed “Mark Iniquities”, there is a record of all of the secrets of men’s hearts, their sins, iniquities, transgressions, secret thoughts, desires, and everything false and toxic about us. One day those books will be opened and we will all give an account before the One who sits on the throne.

But with Him there is forgiveness. God is good. God forgives sin, transgression and iniquity. How can the Holy God forgive unholy sinners? God made a righteous way for himself to forgive sinners, without denying the claims of the broken law. Jesus has come and died for us, in order to answer to the claims of Righteousness against us, and the broken law of God.

The Psalmist is saying “I know there is a record against me in heaven, but I praise you that you forgive sin… how else could I ever hope to stand before you?”

We cannot stand, without the forgiveness of sins. I do not want to live without it, for I must have God in my life, and forgiveness is indispensable to the Spiritual life. God forgives sin.

1 Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.[b]

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
me ( Psalm 32:1-5)

David was dying, of guilt, and his death was consuming him. It wasn’t yet the physical death of David, it was the moral and spiritual death that was destroying him. But it was in the simplicity of confessing his sin, to God, that David stopped dying and started coming back to Life. “You forgave me…”.

“…That You Might be feared…” God forgives us, in order to restore us and bring us into worship again. Life eternal, is knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. We were made to know and enjoy God forever, and we die to the extent that we fall short of that knowledge. The only way to be happy, is to be restored to God, and to be right with Him.

Sin and the guilt that accompanies it, clouds the vision of God, and deadens the soul to knowing God. Where there is guilt which is untreated (like an infected wound), there can be no real communion with God, no answered prayer, no real capacity to worship in Spirit and in Truth.

Oh that you , my readers would avail yourself of the offer of forgiveness of sin, and cleansing, which God offers all who come to Him.

It is in the simplicity of a humble confession of sin, that forgiveness can be known and obtained. Jesus purchased this gift with His own blood, God is love and forgives all sinners, so that they can turn and join the worshipping congregation.Listen to the Apostle John on this matter;

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. ( I John 1:9)

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Out of the Depths I Cry… Psalm 130 a meditation

Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. ( Psalm 130:1-2)

“Out of the Depths…” is where this Psalm commences.

I have no doubt that this meditation comes to many of you, who are currently “in the depths”, due to various sorrowful and painful circumstances. We are often overwhelmed, by debt, discouragement, ill health, disappointed hope, betrayal, addiction… I could go on an on and list the many sorrows and burdens we are prone to in this sad and broken world.

It feels at times as though we are treading water in a stormy sea.

The “Depths” is is a recurring image in the Bible, especially in the Psalms, where the Psalmist is experiencing deep distress, terror and despair, such as ,

He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. (Psalm 18:16)

and

I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.( Psalm 69:2)

Where do you turn when you feel this way? Metaphorically speaking, ( or perhaps literally) not being able to get a foothold, weighed down with mire, deep waters and waves, where do we turn?

We look up! This is what real prayer amounts to, the upward look, and the desperate cry to God who is above.

“…I cried unto thee Oh Lord…”. God is there with you, even in all of your distresses. He, is a HE, a person, “I” cry to “Thee”, we can always resort to Him.

This is the meaning of the “sea stories” in the Gospels, where the disciples of Jesus were sent out into the sea of Galilee, into tremendous storms, which terrified them, although they were accomplished professional fishermen. Jesus was there with them in the boat.

Jesus is with you, dear believer. It may not seem so, but He is there with you. In one instance in the gospel story, Jesus slept in the boat as the disciples battled the storm,

And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.( Mark 4:36-39)

There is an eschatological aspect to these stories as well, for we are all kind of being led into the stormy distress of the last days, and need to know that Jesus is with us. John’s account of a sea storm has this line in it,

And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. (John 6:16-17)

We are all waiting for Jesus to come, and it is getting dark, windy and a little choppy. The distress will only increase, but we should know, that Jesus is watching us, and will come to us at just the right time.

Cry unto Him. Really and truly call out upon God for help and for peace. There are a good many who have never known what it really means to cry out to God with all of their hearts. Look up to Him, open your soul and cry out in the sense of need and even desperation… we need God.

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. ( Psalm 107:23-29)

This Psalm is calling all of us to this kind of spirituality, to true prayer based on a sense of utter need. This Psalm is the Word of God, therefore it is a message from God himself, He will hear your cry, He will listen to your supplication, you will find help from him in the time of need.

Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.

It may comfort you to know that when our Savior Jesus came into this world, he fully tasted death in all of it’s many forms, that he might know by experience what it is like to be us… When he underwent the suffering which culminated in the cross, the prophets described it in just these terms,

 Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away. (Psalm 69:1-4)

He cried out in anguished desperation to God also… He knows what you are suffering, Jesus cares.

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Who Loves Most? ( or least?)

There is a vignette in the Gospel which illustrates a very critical point about Loving God. It answers the question why some come to love God and others do not seem to have capacity to love him.

And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. ( Luke 7:36-38)

Love for Jesus drove that woman to interrupt a supper, held by the Pharisees for Jesus. The religious elite were there, and the woman was definitely not invited. She was, in the first place a woman, and in the second place she had been a disreputable woman, held in contempt by these “Holy Ones” whose life goal was to personally fulfill all of the 618 commandments of God, and to observe a strict separation from all defiling people and things.

She would have felt the barrier of contempt and even hatred from Jesus’ hosts. In their eyes her very presence was defiling . In those days, and in that part of the world, nothing was private. The entire village would have been standing at the door and windows, witnessing the feast. This woman wouldn’t let anything keep her from Jesus.

The woman didn’t burst into the feast to spite them, nothing of the sort crossed her mind at that point. She was just so grateful to have received the forgiveness and reconciling touch of Jesus.

Jesus had come, in the name of God, into her hard, dead world of sin and shame, and had driven out the demons which had been plaguing and tormenting her, and which had driven her into a degrading living death of sin. She was dead to all that was wholesome and Holy, driven out of the congregation of the just, and away from all of the decent, she lived like a leper, until Jesus’ light shone into her life.

Those who had invited Jesus were scandalized. The woman’s actions seemed indecent; she let down her hair, she wept and fell at Jesus feet, her tears washed over the tired feet of Jesus. The woman then produced an expensive alabaster box of ointment and poured it on the feet of Jesus! This was too much!

Perhaps more scandalously, Jesus allowed this, he didn’t say or do anything to stop this woman.

When Jesus did speak, he addressed the host, Simon, the Pharisee,

Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? ( Luke 7:39-42)

Who will love the most? Who knows what it is to worship with trembling and rejoicing? Who will never be mindful of the crowd, the hostile and even indifferent crowd? Who will go to the floor in love and adoration?

The one who owed the most and knew it. The one conscious of the enormity of his debt to God, and who sees that the forgiveness was costly… to God. Love for God will always be according to consciousness of sin, and of forgiveness and grace.

Simon had no such consciousness. He would have considered himself a sinner, no doubt, but not an eternally indebted sinner, unable to so much as pay the interest on his debt. Simon would consider himself to be the fifty dollar sinner, not perfect, of course, but nothing at all in comparison to this “fallen woman”.

Simon didn’t love Jesus all that much. At that point he couldn’t love Jesus. This is because He had no idea how profoundly guilty he was before God, nor did he believe that Jesus would soon come, and take his place in judgment, as a substitute for his sins and the sins of the whole world.

And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. ( Luke 7:45-48)

The woman isn’t forgiven because she loved Jesus, rather the woman loved Jesus because she knew Him to be the one who forgave her sin, and that by Him and him alone her slate could be cleansed, and she could be reconciled to the God whom she once spurned.

She well knew the enormity of her own sin and guilt, she felt it’s pangs and weight everyday, until the day Jesus came along and released her. Thus she Loved Jesus greatly.

But Simon, like so many in this evil generation, was deceived about his sin and his religion. God was speaking to Him, through this spectacle, and in fact Jesus commands that wherever the gospel is preached, this story should be repeated.

What was God saying? something like this, “Simon, look at this woman and her love for me! You are every bit the sinner she was, you can know the joy and release, and holy renewal of all of your affections, that she now knows! Come to me (Jesus) for full pardon and forgiveness and enter into fellowship with the likes of her.”

She anointed Him with expensive oil. And in doing so, Jesus isn’t raise one objection, He allowed her to pour the oil upon his feet. In doing so she was fulfilling prophecy, for Isaiah predicted that though Jesus , the Messiah would be poor, He would be “with the rich in His death(s) (Literally) Isaiah 53.

If the LORD has mercy on your soul, He will reveal to you the immensity of the sin and guilt you are under, and you will then turn to Him for complete forgiveness ad cleansing. Then you will love Jesus with all of your heart.

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The Heart of God … ( Love pt 9)

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:7-10)

Our God is love. He doesn’t merely have love, He is Love. To resist the LORD is to resist Love, and goodness and truth.

Throughout the sacred scriptures God has revealed his heart of love to mankind, and the greatest revelation of Divine Love of all, is the cross of Jesus Christ. In that singular act of God, all access to the LOVE of God is given.

There are several scriptures that run through my mind as I write this article. My paltry words could never truly do justice to the subject I wrote of, but we are called to bear witness to the truth, and the Love of God is a great and profound truth. ( I wouldn’t want to live without the Love of God, would you?).

The 103rd Psalm is loaded with the Revelation of his Love. Verse seven is an echo of an earlier revelation, the dramatic self disclosure of God, when Moses asked Him to reveal His glory.

Merciful – God has a heart of compassion for sinners, and is willing to extend mercy to the undeserving. His heart literally grieves for the miseries that our sins have brought upon us.

Gracious, The LORD is Inclined to give and do for the unworthy ones, what they could never do for themselves. Salvation is all of the LORD’s grace. None of us deserve to be saved , nor could any of us have paid the price for our sins, (not in this life or in the Ages to come).

The Apostle Paul opens a chapter with these blessed words… “But God, who is rich in mercy and for the great Love wherewith He has loved us….”(Ephesians 2:1-4)

Slow to Anger, – when I finally saw the LORD, I was able to get a glimpse of my self, in a kind of a shattering way. I could see something of the enormity of my sins, the liability to Judgment I was under, the true guilt I had incurred, and the fact that all of my sins were direct affronts to God himself and his universe.

I tremble when I think of the day when the Righteous wrath of God will be revealed, and marvel at his patience. The Apostle Peter put it this way, “ Account that the Long-suffering of God is salvation…”.

God is a Father, and has a Father heart for his children. One of the Proverbs always touches me, for in it I hear my Father pleading with me, “My Son Give me your heart…”( Proverbs 23:26).

Being a Father myself, I now know in a deeper way what He is saying here.

Is it not the oldest story in the book, that a man has children, and when they are young, Father can do no wrong! They believe us, they emulate us and want to be like us, as long as we have their heart, ie as long as they can respect and believe us, they will believe that all of their happiness is tied up in the counsel of their Father.

But the World is against the Love of the Father, ( see I John 2:15-17) and seeks to draw the children away, in their hearts from their parents. So many things come together in this wicked and perverse generation to alienate children from parents; the culture, school, ‘entertainment’, etc. And obviously as human parents we do not do everything right.

True Parents want their children to believe them, and to believe that their way is right,. Especially about things like drugs, sexual sin, money, work, etc. When the child’s heart is torn away from their parents, they then become vulnerable to the seduction and deceptions of this AntiChristian World.

I now see why God pleads with us, “My Son give me your heart!”. He would spare us from the evils we are prone to, if only we still love and believed in Him! If only we would see that His way is the right way, and the only path to lasting happiness.

If only they had such a heart to fear Me and keep all My commandments always, so that it might be well with them and with their children forever. (Deuteronomy 5:29)

If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.( Isaiah 48:18)

It hurts to Love, because Love involves freewill. Do you hear this anguish of the Father, that if only his children believed Him? They would be spared from such pain and sorrow, but they thought they knew better.

So our cry as parents has often come from the Proverb above, we plead with God to have our children and grandchildren “give us their hearts”. Who could possibly love them more (Humanly speaking)?

Another passage that speaks of this Father heart of Love, is in the book of Hosea, when God mourns over backslidden Israel,

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.  As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.( Hosea 11:1-3)

Listen to the Father remember the ‘childhood ‘ of Israel and how tenderly God took him by the hand, and healed them time and again. God’s love hurts God, he intended something better for Ephraim,(Israel, the ten tribes).

How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. (Hosea 11:8-9)

How can I give you up Israel?

As a Father I can somewhat relate to the passage in the last chapter of Hosea, where the Prophet is literally given words to give to the children of Israel to pray and be received…

 O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.  I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. ( Hosea 14:1-4)

When a child is being stubborn or disobedient, and even rebellious, the Parents are anxious that the fellowship be restored. But principled Christian parenting demands that the sin be addressed, and discipline administered, and that there be a humble confession from the child, before that can happen.In this way our children learn the ways of God.

I have had many instances where I have literally pled with a child to repent, and to confess the offense, so that we can go on loving each other. I confess I have literally told my children at times what to say that would be accepted. That is how badly we want restoration.

Here God does the same thing, he pleads through his prophet, and even tells them what to pray.” Admit it! Ashur can’t save us! Come on, admit it, ask Me to forgive your sins! Just admit that idols made by human hands are not ‘gods’! Come home children, I will heal you of your backsliding, You will find mercy in me! I will love you freely,(which means I will love you tho you give me no cause to), this is the pleading, tender Father heart of God. He sweeps no sin under the carpet, for he is righteous and Holy, But he loves as a Father, or I should say, ideal Fathers seek to love as close to how He does as possible. Shalom…

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