VIDEO Psalm 121 “My Help Comes from the LORD”

Apr 23, 2013

1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills, From whence comes my help?
2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel, Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in, From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Music Copyrighted by Esther Mui.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
Video Background Image © All rights reserved by publik_oberberg. Used with permission. http://www.flickr.com/people/publik-oberberg/

The Staggering Question

He said to me, ’Son of man, can these bones live?’ —Ezekiel 37:3

Can a sinner be turned into a saint? Can a twisted life be made right? There is only one appropriate answer— “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3). Never forge ahead with your religious common sense and say, “Oh, yes, with just a little more Bible reading, devotional time, and prayer, I see how it can be done.”

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we see the activity and mistake panic for inspiration. That is why we see so few fellow workers with God, yet so many people working for God. We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see? Has any spiritual work been accomplished in me at all? The degree of panic activity in my life is equal to the degree of my lack of personal spiritual experience.

“Behold, O My people, I will open your graves . . .” (Ezekiel 37:12). When God wants to show you what human nature is like separated from Himself, He shows it to you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has ever given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He will only do this when His Spirit is at work in you), then you know that in reality there is no criminal half as bad as you yourself could be without His grace. My “grave” has been opened by God and “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:18). God’s Spirit continually reveals to His children what human nature is like apart from His grace.

Heaven, Hell, and History

Three Views of Hell

We’ve seen a lot of discussion and debate in recent years on the nature of heaven, hell, and what happens after we die. But these discussions are nothing new. The church has been debating eschatology (the study of last things) ever since the time of Christ, and the Jews before Christ were discussing the same.

Scripture provides many insights about the afterlife. But when theologians combine these insights into a coherent whole, they come to some very different conclusions about what the Bible teaches. The nature and duration of hell is one such example.

The church throughout history has consistently taught that everyone dies, that they will be raised again, and that they will be judged. But Christians have never reached full agreement about what happens to the unrepentant after judgment. The three broad streams of thought on this matter are eternal torment, conditional immortality, and universal reconciliation.

Eternal torment (also called traditionalism) has been the most widely held belief about the nature of hell. According to this view, the unsaved will suffer in hell for eternity. Many who hold this view teach that hell is a place with literal fire that burns but never consumes. Others suggest that the fire should be interpreted metaphorically, representing the anguish of separation from God.

Conditional immortality (also called annihilationism) is based on the idea that human souls are not inherently immortal. Conditionalists teach that only God is immortal and that human immortality is only possible through union with Jesus Christ. Thus those who have rejected Christ will not continue living in any sense. They believe that hell is a place of complete destruction.

Universal reconciliation (also called Christian universalism) teaches that people in hell can still repent and place their faith in Christ. Unlike the pluralist version of universalism, Christian universalism affirms that Jesus is the only way to God. Adherents to this view believe that God never stops pursuing the lost, even after their judgment. So in theory, everyone can eventually be saved.

These descriptions of course are generalizations, and theologians have held any number of variations on these views. And hell is not the only debated topic—just as much discussion surrounds the nature of heaven, the New Jerusalem, and the intermediate state between death and resurrection.

By Chuck McKnight

God’s Shadow

“The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.” (Lamentations 4:20)

In the hot desert lands so familiar to the Israelites, a place of shade was considered a blessing wherever it could be found, and this was often taken as a symbol of God’s protection from the hot hatred of their (and His) enemies. In fact, the Hebrew word for “shadow” is used twelve times in the Bible as a type of God’s guarding presence.

The first is in Psalm 17:8: “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” Three other times “the shadow of thy wings” is used (Psalm 36:7; 57:1; 63:7). Isaiah speaks of His presence “as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” and as like being hidden “in the shadow of his hand” (Isaiah 32:2; 49:2; also 51:16). The Lord is compared to “a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain” (Isaiah 4:6). He is “a shadow from the heat” and like “the shadow of a cloud” (Isaiah 25:4-5).

The last reference to God’s shadow is in our text above in reference to the forced exile of God’s people into Babylon. In this sad context, Jeremiah laments that even “the anointed of the LORD”—that is, literally, the Lord’s Messiah (fulfilled in Jesus Christ)—has been taken captive with His people. He is even called “the breath of our nostrils,” recognizing implicitly that it was He who breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life in the beginning (Acts 17:25). Thus, He will even be with His people as they undergo their just chastisements; they can even “live among the heathen” under His shadow. No matter how dark our circumstances, we can say with the psalmist: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. . . . in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2). HMM

Ask in My Name and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full

Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.—John 16:24.

GOD’S “ask”
Meaneth all fullness and all grace,
Access in every time and place;
Yet we
To whom this mercy is so free,
This privilege of light to bask
In the full sunshine of His face,
Regard prayer even as a task.
ANNA E. HAMILTON.

THERE is some power we have not yet discovered, some secret as yet unknown,—but oh! what a marvelous power! what a blessed secret! That can make the Christian life a life of love, and trust, and bright serenity; something different from the duty-life, which, though real, does not satisfy; having all the activity and earnestness of the duty-life, but having with it the peace and joy which many and many a soul is craving.
WILLIAM R. HUNTINGTON.

We do not value, as we ought our inestimable privilege of being allowed to worship God. We do not prize our heavenly prerogative of being permitted to keep His commandments. We look at that as an obligation, which is more properly a boon. FREDERICK W. FABER.

Emmanuel, … God with us

Emmanuel, … God with us. Matthew 1:23

Will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee. — The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. — Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.

God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.

The first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, … came Jesus and stood in the midst. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. After eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Then saith [Jesus] to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas … said, My Lord and my God. — Unto us a Son is given: the mighty God.

2 Chronicles 6:18. John 1:14. 1 Timothy 3:16. Hebrews 1:2. John 20:19, 20, 26-28. Isaiah 9:6.

The fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering, gentleness

The fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering, gentleness. Galatians 5:22

The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.

Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. — Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. — The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. — Charity suffereth long, and is kind.

In due season we shall reap, if we faint not. — Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Exodus 34:6. Ephesians 4:1,2. Ephesians 4:32. James 3:17. 1 Corinthians 13:4. Galatians 6:9. James 5:7,8.