Sep 11, 2008
Simple worship video we use at church I do not own the songs or the lyrics.
Sep 11, 2008
Simple worship video we use at church I do not own the songs or the lyrics.
While traveling in Paris, my husband and I decided to enjoy the view atop the Arch of Triumph. Choosing adventure over ease, we elected to climb the 284 stairs to reach the sky-high destination instead of taking the elevator. A good part of the climb required us to step up ever-higher in what seemed like an endless spiral staircase. When we emerged at the apex, we relished the panoramic view of the city—a view made possible by our 162-foot ascent!
In the Old Testament, Jacob dreamed of a stairway that reached from earth to heaven (Genesis 28:12-15). Angels ascended and descended on the structure. And God stood at the top and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham” (Genesis 28:13).
Centuries later, Jesus referenced a staircase like the one in Jacob’s dream. He had just revealed Himself to Nathaniel as the Messiah in a miraculous way (John 1:48-49). To the awestruck new disciple recruit and others, Jesus said, “You will see greater things than this . . [you’ll see] angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth” (John 1:50-51).
With this image, Jesus taught the disciples that He was (and is) the way to get to heaven (John 14:6). We can’t reach God on our own. Attempting this would be like trying to jump into the clouds from the earth—impossible! Thankfully, Jesus bridges the gap between God and us.
He’s the Lamb of God (John 1:29), the One who takes away our sin when we believe in Him. If you know Jesus, you can look forward to spending eternity with Him. If you don’t, today is the perfect time to consider the One who died for you—your personal “stairway to heaven.”
He calls his own…by name… —John 10:3
When I have sadly misunderstood Him? (see John 20:11-18). It is possible to know all about doctrine and still not know Jesus. A person’s soul is in grave danger when the knowledge of doctrine surpasses Jesus, avoiding intimate touch with Him. Why was Mary weeping? Doctrine meant no more to her than the grass under her feet. In fact, any Pharisee could have made a fool of Mary doctrinally, but one thing they could never ridicule was the fact that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her (see Luke 8:2); yet His blessings were nothing to her in comparison with knowing Jesus Himself. “…she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus….Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ ” (John 20:14, 16). Once He called Mary by her name, she immediately knew that she had a personal history with the One who spoke. “She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ ” (John 20:16).
When I have stubbornly doubted? (see John 20:24-29). Have I been doubting something about Jesus— maybe an experience to which others testify, but which I have not yet experienced? The other disciples said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord” (John 20:25). But Thomas doubted, saying, “Unless I see…I will not believe” (John 20:25). Thomas needed the personal touch of Jesus. When His touches will come we never know, but when they do come they are indescribably precious. “Thomas…said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:28).
When I have selfishly denied Him? (see John 21:15-17). Peter denied Jesus Christ with oaths and curses (see Matthew 26:69-75), and yet after His resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter alone. Jesus restored Peter in private, and then He restored him publicly before the others. And Peter said to Him, “Lord…You know that I love You” (John 21:17).
Do I have a personal history with Jesus Christ? The one true sign of discipleship is intimate oneness with Him— a knowledge of Jesus that nothing can shake.
To those who have had no agony Jesus says, “I have nothing for you; stand on your own feet, square your own shoulders. I have come for the man who knows he has a bigger handful than he can cope with, who knows there are forces he cannot touch; I will do everything for him if he will let Me. Only let a man grant he needs it, and I will do it for him.” The Shadow of an Agony
In a fish’s belly, Jonah recommitted himself to the Lord’s purpose. But the popular Bible story about the consequences of disobedience doesn’t end with Jonah obeying God. The book actually concludes with him acknowledging why he didn’t want the job—and with the Lord chastising him for his selfish reasons. Jonah was afraid that the Ninevites, who were a threat to the Jewish people, might actually repent, and then his merciful God wouldn’t destroy them. The reluctant prophet admitted he wanted to see them wiped out: “Therefore in order to forestall [their salvation] I fled to Tarshish” (Jonah 4:2). When the Lord relented, Jonah’s trip became a success for everyone but him.
Believers resist doing God’s will for many reasons. Sometimes, although we don’t like to confess this, we say no because we dislike the probable outcome of obedience. As Jonah did, we also can lose sight of spiritually important things and focus on our own desires and comfort.
Our unhappiness with what we think might happen is not a reason to resist God’s plan. If the Lord calls us to act, He will take care of the end results. Our job is to obey.
What form of selfishness is keeping you from obeying the Lord? Maybe you are too angry with your spouse to work on your marriage or too hurt to welcome back a repentant child. But we’re not to be ruled by feelings, no matter how strong they are. Your heavenly Father expects obedience. The final results may surprise you, particularly how blessed you will be for having followed Him.
“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9)
Most of us have seen ripples created from a pebble dropped in a pond. They also make good illustrations of what atheistic and naturalistic science does to truth.
The Bible uses a number of illustrations about the importance of getting rid of the source of the problems. The psalmist cried out for strength when he saw the enemies destroying foundations (Psalm 11:3). Jesus warned about the “leaven” of false doctrine (Matthew 16:12). And the prophet noted that if the stump is left, the tree will grow again (Daniel 4:23-26; contrast with Luke 3:9). These principle illustrations warn us to focus on the cause of the error, not the symptoms.
It is tempting to go after only the symptoms. The pain of abortion, pornography, flagrant promiscuity, widespread STDs, easy divorce, victimless crimes, political corruption, and so on are very real and terribly destructive. But the core rationale in the educated Western world for all the anti-God, anti-righteous, anti-authority beliefs is atheistic and naturalistic science.
Ephesians 6:12 explains that the real battle is “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” A great part of biblical stewardship must involve direct opposition toward these “rulers of the darkness.”
Our “intellectual” world needs the evidence that will expose the atheism in naturalistic science. Christian leaders must not only be trained biblically, but also in a defense of the faith “once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). That work is extensive, time-consuming, and expensive, and those called to so labor must have the prayer support of other Christians. Please consider co-laboring with us. HMM III
And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. —Matthew 22:12-13
We have such a short time to prepare for such a long time. By that I mean we have now to prepare for then. We have an hour to prepare for eternity. To fail to prepare is an act of moral folly. For anyone to have a day given to prepare, it is an act of inexcusable folly to let anything hinder that preparation. If we find ourselves in a spiritual rut, nothing in the world should hinder us. Nothing in this world is worth it. If we believe in eternity, if we believe in God, if we believe in the eternal existence of the soul, then there is nothing important enough to cause us to commit such an act of moral folly.
Failing to get ready in time for eternity, and failing to get ready now for the great then that lies out yonder, is a trap in plain sight. There is an odd saying in the Old Testament, “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird” (Proverbs 1:17). When the man of God wrote that, he gave the birds a little credit. It would be silly for a bird watching me set the trap to conveniently fly down and get into it. Yet there are people doing that all the time. People who have to live for eternity fall into that trap set for them in plain sight.
Give me a willingness—no, a passion—to do my part in this urgent matter. Amen.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
The causes of retarded spiritual progress are many. It would not be accurate to ascribe the trouble to one single fault.
One there is, however, which is so universal that it may easily be the main cause: failure to give time to the cultivation of the knowledge of God!
The temptation to make our relation to God judicial instead of personal is very strong. Believing for salvation has these days been reduced to a once-done act that requires no further attention. The young believer becomes aware of an act performed rather than of a living Saviour to be followed and adored.
The Apostle Paul was anything but an advocate of the once-done, automatic school of Christianity. He devoted his whole life to the art of knowing Christ!
We may as well accept it: there is no shortcut to sanctity. Even the crises that come in the spiritual life are usually the result of long periods of thought and prayerful meditation. As the wonder grows more and more dazzling there is likely to occur a crisis of revolutionizing proportions. But that crisis is related to what has gone before in the preparation of waiting upon God.
It may come as a sudden sweet explosion, an uprushing of a tide that has been increasing its pressure within until we can no longer contain it!
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief. HEBREWS 3:12
Study the life of faithful Noah and you will know what he would say if he could come and counsel you today: “Whenever you hear God’s truth,” he would say, “you will go either in the direction you are moved, or you will just wait.
“If you wait, you will find that the next time you hear the truth, it will not move you quite as much. The next time, it will move you less—and the time will come when that truth will not move you at all!”
We need that message in our generation, for there is a distressing kind of “frozen” unbelief all around us. Men and women are paying little heed to any of God’s warning signals.
As a farm boy, I learned the lesson of little chicks—an easy prey for hawks overhead. The mother hen heard the high pitched cry of the soaring hawk and gave her own special “cluck cluck” of warning. Her chicks scampered to her side and soon she had them all tucked safely under her feathers.
Thank God, there is a true faith that is not ashamed to move in the direction of the Ark of safety!
Lord, I pray that today I will be especially alert to God’s truth and that I will take any appropriate action that is impressed upon my spirit.