Eternal

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Psalm 119 is divided into twenty-two 8-verse segments, with each verse of the segments beginning with its own Hebrew letter. Lamedh is found in verses 89-96, and lamedh is the tallest of all the Hebrew letters, so that means it stands out. 

Lamedh shows us big proportions. Words like eternal, boundless, established, enduring, and forever are prominent in these eight verses. The psalmist is inviting us to climb up into God’s Word and get a bigger view, a higher vantage point of who God is. 

Consider the opening verse of this section: Your Word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Eternal—think of the implications! If what God says—His Word—is eternal, then…

  • it continues through all generations (v. 90) 
  • it endures even when everything else fades away (vv. 90-91) 
  • it has no limits or frontiers (v. 96) 

At every single moment in my life, my eternal, enduring, limitless God knows the outcome or consequence of each option I could choose. His Word can so transform my mind that I can always choose the most Christ-glorifying option. The Spirit of Truth—my eternal Counselor—can guide me with God’s Word. 

I never have to be at a loss. I am never stumped. I always have access to eternal Truth. 

The psalmist got this: If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction (v. 92). 

Through God’s firmly-established Word I have—

  • Eternal Counsel 
  • Enduring Help 
  • Limitless Strength

And you have all of this, too, through God’s Word! 

Psalm 119 is a great place to start to make Bible reading a daily habit. Scientists tell us that you only need 21 days to make a new habit, and in Psalm 119 you have 22 days of daily reading that will transform your heart and mind. 

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The Spirit Of Truth

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

When I was 4 years old, I heard my echo for the first time as I yelled “Hello!” to a barn on the other side of a pasture. I was totally convinced that I had a friend in that barn yelling back to me, and I ended up being a bit disappointed later when I discovered that it was just my own sound waves bouncing back to me. 

To my 4-year-old brain, a little friend yelling back from the barn was absolutely true. It was maturity and new information that taught me differently. Isn’t this an ongoing story for all of us? Many things seem true from our current perspective, but then as we get older or smarter we realize that our original belief—what we really believed to be true—is now invalidated. 

Rarely does anyone admit, “I was immature back then,” but we usually try to justify ourselves by saying, “If I would have known back then what I know now….” But the fact is it will always be an impossibility for you to know then what you know now. 

In 1880, Edwin A. Abbott wrote Flatland, a favorite book of Albert Einstein. Abbott was a college-trained mathematician and theologian; in fact, he was actually better known for his theological writings than for this book. In this fabulous little book, Square, who lives in two-dimensional Flatland, cannot perceive height or depth. So what appears to him to be a wall, would merely be a line to you and me. One day Sphere from three-dimensional Spaceland visits Flatland, trying to explain to Square what his world was really like, but Square and his other Flatlanders could never fully grasp the idea. 

When Jesus was interviewed by Pilate, it sounds as though Pilate is missing a “dimension.” Pilate tries to state things the way that he understands them, but Jesus is revealing to him a whole new dimension (see John 18:33-38). The word Jesus uses for “truth” in this conversation means objective truth: something that is always true, regardless of where or when we live. Jesus explained that He as God IS objective truth. Any of our truth statements that aren’t grounded in God are subjective truth statements at best. 

Listen to how John describes Jesus: In the beginning—before all time—was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was continually existing in the beginning co-eternally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being. In Him was life and the power to bestow life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it and is unreceptive to it. (John 1:1-5 AMP) 

Here’s the absolutely amazing thing: Jesus wants us to have this same insight into heavenly dimensions! Jesus said He would ask the Father to send us the Holy Spirit, Whom He called “the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:6, 16-17; 15:26; 16:12-13).

The Spirit of Truth…

  • …reminds us of the words of Jesus—John 14:26 
  • …helps us testify to others about the Truth—John 15:26-27 
  • …continually reveals objective truth to us—John 16:12-13 
  • …gives us truthful words to share with other “Flatlanders” who doubt the words of God—Matthew 10:16-20 
  • …and helps us spot and refute the falsehoods of the antichrist—1 John 2:18-27  

[Check out all of these Scriptures by clicking here.]

I love the King James Version of 1 John 2:20—But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. Being baptized in the Spirit of Truth means that you have access to an eternal perspective. You are no longer bound by the dimensions and paradigms of this “Flatland” but you are seeing things from God’s transcendent perspective. 

The unction of the Holy Spirit will allow you to speak THE Truth to a world blinded by the spirit of the antichrist. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series We Are: Pentecostal, you can access the full list by clicking here.

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Perspective In The Middle Of The Storm

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Have you ever read the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Poor Alexander, his day just seemed to get worse—nothing was going right. He wakes up with gum in his hair, trips on his skateboard, and drops his favorite sweater in the sink filled with water. Breakfast doesn’t get any better, things go sideways at school, his least-favorite food is served for dinner, his nightlight burns out. And if all that’s not bad enough, the cat decides to sleep with his brother instead of with him. 

Can you relate to Alexander? 

Doesn’t it seem like when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong? And if things go wrong for too many days in a row, it seems like the bad times are lasting forever! All of us have a tendency to exaggerate during the dark days. 

A psalmist named Asaph seemed to be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day of his own. Listen to some of his words, including the exaggerations of how bad he thought everything was: 

Why have You rejected us forever, O God? … Your foes roared in the place where You met us… They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land. … How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile Your name forever? Why do You hold back Your hand? (Psalm 74:1, 4, 8, 10, 11) 

In the middle of the storm, we tend to not only exaggerate how bad things are but we also seem to lose our bearings and we can even lose sight of God. I think that’s what was happening to Asaph in the first half of his lament. But then we come to the middle verse of this psalm and we notice the beginning of a change in perspective: “But You, O God, are my King from of old; You bring salvation upon the earth” (v. 12). 

Aha! In the middle of his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, Asaph stopped looking at all the bad things around him and turned his gaze upward. “Look,” he tells himself, “there is God still reigning as the Supreme King!” Asaph begins to recount all that God has done, using the phrase “It was You” who did these miraculous things five times in the next five verses. 

In the middle of the storm, Asaph has to remind himself…

  • God existed before time began
  • He is still the sovereign ruler in this present moment 
  • He gets the final and decisive word at the end
  • He never forgets His covenant of love with His people 
  • He defends His cause and His people 
  • His desires can never be thwarted or even delayed a single moment 
  • He is the only One who exists as the Eternal I AM
  • His love and His power are unmatched and unrivaled anywhere in the universe 
  • He will rise up to save me 

My friend, I implore you to remember these words of Asaph. Commit them to your memory now, so that when your terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day happens—when it seems like everything is going to go wrong forever—that you can spot those lying exaggerations, you can turn your gaze upward, and you can find hope in knowing your God not only has all power to save you in the storm, but He has unlimited love that wants to save you through the storm. 

Look up, look up, look up and see your God reigning supremely over even the worst terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. 

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Poetry Saturday—Growing Down

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Mix a grunt and a grumble, a sneer and a frown,
And what do you have? Why old Mr. Brown,
The crabbiest man in our whole darn town.
We all called him Grow-Up Brown:
For years each girl and boy and pup
Heard “Grow up, grow up, oh grow up.”
He’d say, “Why don’t you be polite?
Why must you shout and fuss and fight?
Why can’t you keep dirt off your clothes?
Why can’t you remember to wipe your nose?
Why must you always make such noise?
Why don’t you go pick up your toys?
Why do you hate to wash your hands?
Why are your shoes all filled with sand?
Why must you shout when I’m lying down?
Why don’t you grow up?” grumped Grow-Up Brown.

One day we said to Grow-Up Brown,
“Hey, why don’t you try growing down?
Why don’t you crawl on your knees?
Why don’t you try climbing trees?
Why don’t you bang on a tin-can drum?
Why don’t you chew some bubble gum?
Why don’t you play kick-the-can?
Why don’t you not wash your hands?
Why don’t you join the baseball team?
Why don’t you jump and yell and scream?
Why don’t you try skipping stones?
Why don’t you eat ice cream cones?
Why don’t you cry when you feel sad?
Why don’t you cuddle with your dad?
Why don’t you have weenie roasts?
Why don’t you believe in ghosts?
Why don’t you have pillow fights?
Why don’t you sleep with your teddy at night?
Why don’t you swing from monkey bars?
Why don’t you wish on falling stars?
Why don’t you run in three-legged races?
Why don’t you make weirdie faces?
Why don’t you smile, Grow-Up Brown?
Why don’t you try growing down?”
Then Grow-Up Brown, he scrunched and frowned
And scratched his head and walked around,
And finally he said with a helpless sound,
“Maybe I will try growing down.”

So Grow-Up Brown began to sing
And started doing silly things:
He started making weirdie faces
And came in first in the three-legged races.
All day he swung from monkey bars,
All night he’d lie and count the stars.
He tooted horns, he banged on drums,
He spent twenty bucks on bubble gum,
He went to all the weenie roasts,
And once he thought he saw a ghost.
He got to be great at pillow fights
And went to sleep with his teddy at night.
He flew a kite, he kick a can,
He rubbed some dirt upon his hands.
He drew some pictures, threw some stones,
He ate forty-seven ice cream cones.
He got some sand between his toes,
Got a loose tooth and a bloody nose.
He got a dog, they rolled in the mud.
He imitated Elmer Fudd.
He climbed a roof (though no one asked),
He broke his wrist—he wore a cast.
He rolled down hills, he climbed up trees,
He scuffed his elbows, skinned his knees,
He tried to join the baseball team;
When they said no, he spit and screamed.
He cried when he was feeling sad
And went and cuddled with his dad.
He wore a hat that didn’t fit,
He learned just how far he could spit,
He learned to wrestle and get tickled,
Sucked his thumb, he belched and giggled.
He got his trousers torn and stained,
He ran out barefoot in the rain,
Shouting to all the folks in town,
“It’s much more fun, this growin’ down.” —Shel Silverstein

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A Proper Perspective In An Evil Culture

Do these phrases sound familiar? 

  • The foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? 
  • The faithful have vanished from among men 
  • Everyone lies to his neighbor 
  • The boastful say, “We will triumph with our tongues” 
  • The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men 

This could be said today in my neighborhood. And 20 years ago in Washington DC. And 500 years ago in Europe. But it was said over 3000 years ago!

In times like these it’s important to remember that there have always been times like these! 

In the United States, elections bring regular changes in leadership. Around the world and throughout history violent dictators are toppled, benevolent monarchies fall, dominate personalities shine brightly and fade from the scene, even people who called themselves “Great” or “the king of kings” have disappeared. What should our perspective be in changing cultures—whether they are good or evil?

In Psalms 9-12, David shares some timeless reminders.  

In Psalm 9, he contrasts the temporary track record of mortals with the transcendency of Yahweh. His Selah pauses in this psalm invite us to consider the question: Who benefits me ultimately and affects me eternally: mortals or God?

In the Septuagint, Psalms 9 and 10 make up one psalm. In our English Bible, Psalm 9 closes with the phrase “they are but men” and Psalm 10 closes by calling mankind “mere earthly mortals.” Contrast that with Yahweh who is described as “the LORD reigns forever” and “the LORD is King for ever and ever.” 

In between these eternal affirmations of God, mere earthly mortals are described as: 

  • arrogant 
  • boastful—literally saying “hallelujah” to themselves 
  • blessing all who are like them in their wicked thoughts
  • having no room in their thoughts for God 
  • even praying to themselves—which is the literal meaning of “he says to himself” that David repeats three times 

Literally this mere earthly mortal thinks of himself as god! But even as he says “nothing will ever hurt me while I’m alive” he acknowledges his mortality, admitting that he is indeed finite. 

In Psalms 11 and 12, David gives the righteous the proper perspective to handle all of this. In a word, David wants the godly to remember:

  • Remember God sees everything 
  • Remember God punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous 
  • Remember God gets the final word 

Christians can only live exemplary, anxiety-free, and God-honoring lives when we stay focused on the Infinite, on the Eternal God. With this perspective we can live out our roles as “aliens and strangers”—as the apostle Peter calls us—while we live in this evil culture.

Poetry Saturday—Indispensable Man

Sometime when you’re feeling important;
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom;
Sometime when you take for granted
You’re the best qualified in the room.

Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole;
Just follow this simple instruction,
And see how it humbles your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist;
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,
Is a measure of how you’ll be missed.

You may splash all you please when you enter,
You can stir up the water galore;
But stop and you’ll find in a minute,
That it looks quite the same as before.

The moral of this quaint example
Is to do just the best that you can;
Be proud of yourself, but remember
There’s no indispensable man —Saxon White Kessinger

A Radical Change In Perspective

My friend Josh Schram shared a great message yesterday, wrapping up our series called Fading Gratitude. 

Josh was transparent about some of the struggles he overcame during his younger years, explaining how his decision to be grateful even for those roadblocks completely changed his perspective.

When we’re not intentional, our gratitude naturally begins to fade. It’s not that we’re intentionally ungrateful, but we just merely forget to be thankful. 

Our fading gratitude creates a domino effect. When gratitude fades we live with… 

Anxiety can keep us from even trying to pursue what God has planned for our lives. 

When a large group of people needed to be fed, a couple of Jesus’ disciples forgot about the miracles Jesus had already done in the past, and as a result, they became anxious about what to do next. 

Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” (John 6:7-9)

Yet Jesus multiplied more than enough for everyone to eat AND there were more leftovers than there was food that they originally started with! “So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves” (John 6:13).

That’s why Jesus tells us, So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34). When we’re grateful for what God provided yesterday, and we’re thankful for what He’s providing today, it will cut short any feelings of anxiety about what God will do again tomorrow!

“No amount of regret changes the past, no amount of anxiety changed the future, but any amount of gratitude changes the present.” —Ann Voskamp 

Gratitude can radically change our perspective! 

If I’m not choosing gratitude, then gratitude is fading. I can be grateful for things I originally thought were holding me back. I can give those things to Jesus—He is not only more than enough but He also gives back to me more than I gave to Him. 

 

7 More Quotes From “Jesus Always”

jesus-alwaysIn Jesus Always by Sarah Young, we hear Jesus speak the words of Scripture to us in His first-Person voice.

“I am training you to view your life from a heavenly perspective—through eyes of faith. When things don’t go as you had hoped to, talk with Me. Seek My face and My guidance. I will help you discern whether you need to work to change the situation or simply accept it.”

“The more you keep your gaze on Me—in quiet times and busy times—the better you can reflect My glory to other people. … When you are aware that I am present with you, you’re less likely to do or say something that’s displeasing to Me. When you’re struggling with difficult circumstances or painful feelings, awareness of My presence offers courage and comfort.”

“If you aspire to reach the heights—especially the high places of achievement and recognition—be prepared to shoulder the responsibilities that accompany success. But don’t forget to enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishing good things with Me, through Me, and for Me.”

“Pursuing a close walk with Me is the best way to live in the present. Keep bringing your thoughts back to Me whenever they wander. Return to Me joyfully, beloved. I will take great delight in you and rejoice over you with singing.”

“You tend to waste energy trying to determine whether your resources are adequate for the day. You keep checking your ‘power gauge’ instead of looking to Me for My provision. How much better to simply acknowledge your insufficiency when you awaken! This frees you to rely on My boundless sufficiency.”

“Your becoming a Christian was only the beginning of the work I’m doing in you. You need to be made new in the attitude of your mind and to put on the new self—becoming increasingly godly, righteous, and holy. This is a lifelong endeavor, and it is preparing you for heaven’s glory.”

“See Me smiling on you in radiant approval. My limitless love falls continually upon you, like heavenly snowflakes that melt into your upturned face. No matter how distressing your circumstances, this love is sufficient to sustain you. Someday you will even ascend to Heaven on it. I eagerly anticipate the time when I will take you into glory—to be with Me forever!”

Be sure to check out my review of Jesus Always by clicking here, and you can read the first set of quotes I shared from this book here.

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Putting Afflictions In Perspective

gurnall-afflictionsWe all go through difficult times. There is not one person on planet Earth who doesn’t face times of adversity and trial. But Christians can put these challenging times in perspective…

“Job found his legacy through the grief he experienced. He was tried that his godliness might be confirmed and validated. In the same way, my troubles are intended to deepen my character and to clothe me in gifts I had little of prior to my difficulties. … Apparent adversity will ultimately become an advantage for those of us doing what is right, if we are willing to keep serving and to wait patiently.” —Lettie Cowman

“Afflictions are a spade which God uses to dig into His people’s hearts to find the gold of faith.” —William Gurnall

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” —2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Thursdays With Oswald—A New Perspective Of Calvary

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

A New Perspective Of Calvary

     If Jesus Christ were only a martyr, His Cross would be of no significance; but if the Cross of Jesus Christ is the expression of the secret heart of God, the lever by which God lifts back the human race to what it was designed to be, then there is a new attitude to things. … 

     There are any number of amateur skeptics, and the men who are seeing the difference between “believing their beliefs,” and “believing God,” men, who, through the turmoil and the stress, are seeing that rationalism is not the basis of thing. According to the Bible, the basis of things is tragedy, and the way out is the way made by God in Redemption. The New Testament does not say that the human race is evolving, but that the human race is a magnificent ruin of what it was designed to be. …

     Paul says the fundamental revelation of the New Testament is that God redeemed the whole human race when they were spitting in His face, as it were. … 

     The majority of people who have never been touched by affliction see Jesus Christ’s death as a thing beside the mark. When a man gets to his wits’ end and things go hard with him, his thick hide is pierced and he is stabbed wide awake, then for the first time he begins to see something else—“At last I see; I thought that He was stricken, smitten of God and afflicted; but now I see He was wounded for my transgressions.” … 

     Jesus Christ did not come to give us pretty ideas of God, or sympathy with ourselves; He came from a holy God to enable men, by the sheer power of His Redemption, to become holy.

From The Shadow Of An Agony

Oswald Chambers wrote these words in the midst of The Great War (what we now refer to as World War I), when everyone’s belief in rationalism was shaken to the core. Tragedy has a tendency to do that to us.

Chambers says that trouble in this world should point us to the unshakable, inescapable truth that this world is “a magnificent ruin of what it was designed to be,” and the only security and hope we have is a new life with God though the Redemption Jesus paid for at Calvary.

May any pain, suffering, or confusion you feel in this world help you see the Cross of Christ in a whole new light.

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