Watch Your Horn

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During my freshman year of college, I was once the butt of a good-natured joke. I didn’t mind it so much except for the fact that there were several people in the room that didn’t know me, so they would have walked away thinking I was a jerk. As I vented to my roommate about this, his counsel was simply, “Just forgive ‘em, man!” 

Yeah, right … easier said than done! I didn’t want forgiveness—I wanted payback! Ever been there? 

The Hebrew word Selah is a call for us to pause and calmly think about what’s going on in our heart and mind. For instance, in those moments where we may want someone to get justice for the way they hurt us. 

In Psalm 75, God is literally the One who speaks the Selah. In fact, God speaks twice in this short psalm: once in verses 2-5 and again in verse 10 to close this psalm. Putting together His two speeches, God says, “I choose the right time, I judge perfectly, I hold everything firm. Selah. I will cut off the horns of all the wicked, but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up.” 

What is meant by “the horn of the wicked” or “the horn of the righteous”? Literally, it means a show of strength, but it can be used in both a negative or a positive sense. 

In the negative sense it means:

  • boasting of your own power 
  • standing in defiant opposition to all other powers 
  • proudly trumpeting your own strength
  • the English words “arrogant” and “boast” in verse 5 are both the same word Hebrew word halal. This means to shine a light on yourself, literally to say “Hallelujah!” to or about yourself! 

This pride is so dangerous! As C.S. Lewis said, “Pride is ruthless, sleepless, unsmiling concentration on the self.”

In the positive sense, a horn means the righteous person who shines a light on God, who concentrates on Him, who knows that anything good they have comes from Him. 

The wicked lift up their own horn (literally lift up themselves), while the righteous bow their horn (literally lift up God). What does God do? God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). 

This psalm essentially has God giving two warnings:

  1. To the wicked He says, “Do not lift up your horn against Me.” 
  2. To the righteous He says, “Submit to Me and do not try to rush My timing.” 

Notice that Asaph says “a cup of foaming wine” is coming to the wicked (v. 8). This symbolizes God’s judgment (Revelation 19:11-16). This was to be our just punishment too, but Jesus took the cup of God’s wrath Himself, and in its place gave us the cup of God’s blessing (Isaiah 51:22; Matthew 26:39-42; 1 Corinthians 10:16). This switching of the cups is what we celebrate every time we drink the cup of Communion. 

God was patient with us and He is still being patient with the boastful wicked, which is why He warns them—and us—to Selah. We were rescued from judgment and now God calls upon us to tell others about Him, so that they may also be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ (Proverbs 24:11-12; 2 Peter 3:9). 

Here’s the call to Christians: Watch your horn! Don’t shine a light on yourself, but shine a light on Jesus Christ and remain on-mission to rescue those who persist in blowing their own horn. 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our Selah series, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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Leadership And Grumbling

It seems like these two things go together: leadership and grumbling. Sadly, it is usually an ugly, downward spiral: people grumble against those in leadership, the leaders feel the need to defend themselves and typically respond angrily, which causes even more grumbling against those in leadership. And down goes the spiral!

It doesn’t have to be this way. And it should never be this way among Christians!

Moses reminded those who grumbled against him that they were really grumbling against God. Moses didn’t have to respond, but he let God take care of it.

Grumbling can be deadly for grumblers, but it doesn’t have to be for godly leaders.

(What does it mean to be a “godly leader”? I have an ongoing series of posts with the consistent theme “A mark of a godly leader is…” catalogued here.)

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Stick To The Revealed Word Of God

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

Stick To The Revealed Word Of God

Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. (Hebrews 13:7-9) 

     From the connection it is evident that our text refers to the teaching of Christ, who is ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ This is not according to the so-called development folly. Theology, like every other science, is to grow, watered by the splendid wisdom of this enlightened age, fostered by the superlative ability of the gentlemen of light and leading of the present time, so much superior to all who came before them! 

     We think not so, brothers and sisters, for the Lord Jesus Christ was the perfect revelation of God. … In previous ages, God has spoken to us by His prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son [Hebrews 1:1-2]. Now as to that which was a complete revelation, it is blasphemous to suppose that there can be any more revealed than has been made known in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God! … And as He shuts up the book that contains the written revelation, He bids you never dare to take from it, lest He should take your name out of the Book of Life! And never dare to add to it, lest He should add to you the plagues that are written in this book [Revelation 22:18-19]!

From The Unchangeable Christ 

BEWARE when someone tells you they have discovered some new revelation from God that they—and they alone—have uncovered. God’s Word doesn’t need anyone’s “help.” 

But DO pray before you read the Bible to ask the same Holy Spirit that inspired the Word of God to now illuminate it to your mind as you read and study. 

(P.S. Oswald Chambers had some sobering words about false prophets.)

 

Thursdays With Oswald—The Love Behind The Warning

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.

The Love Behind The Warning

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” —Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14) 

     Always distinguish between warning and threatening. God never threatens; the devil never warns. A warning is a great arresting statement of God’s, inspired by His love and patience. …

     It is the great patience of God that gives the warning, “The way of transgressors is hard.” Go behind that statement in your imagination and see the love of God. God is amazingly tender, but the way of transgressors cannot be made easy. God has made it difficult to go wrong, especially for His children. … 

     If Jesus came to be a teacher only, He had better have stayed away. What is the use of teaching a human being to be what no human being can be—to be continually self-effaced, to do more than his duty, to be completely disinterested, to be perfectly devoted to God? If all Jesus came to do was to teach men to be that, He is the greatest taunter that ever presented any ideal to the human race. But Jesus Christ came primarily and fundamentally to regenerate man. He came to put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and immediately that is given to a man, the teaching of Jesus begins to be possible. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

The opposite of love is not hate; it’s apathy. If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t care what road we attempted to take. But He does love us, so He tells us the one and only way to get to Him: Jesus Christ is THE way. 

Chambers is exactly right when He says that Jesus was not just a great Teacher. If that’s all that Jesus came to do, we would be miserable people because we could never walk the narrow road that He taught. But Jesus came to enable and empower us to walk that road. He came to purchase our atonement (our “at-onement” with Him) so that we could live out all that He taught. 

Jesus is a Teacher, but He is also the Enabler that makes it possible for us to obey His teaching. For that, we should be eternally grateful! 

You Are God’s Lavish Gift To Others

GratefulI have noticed a couple of things about thank-full people (people who are full of thanks). In a single word the difference is ABUNDANCE.

  • Thank-full people have an abundance mentality—they believe there’s plenty for everyone; that God’s grace overflows and is boundless.
  • Thank-full people want others to find this abundant life too. As Charles Spurgeon prayed, “I would then that the quickening Spirit would come down upon me, and upon you, upon every one of us in abundance, to create men valiant for truth and mighty for the Lord.”

This abundance mentality is what Paul is referring to when he writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). Both words dwell and richly convey someone who is so saturated in the abundance of God, that they cannot help wanting to share it with everyone!

So how do Christians lavish their thank-fullness and peace-fullness on others? The rest of that verse in Colossians tells us:

  1. We teach.
  2. We admonish with all wisdom.
  3. We sing.

Teaching others is always rooted in love, and is for the benefit of the other person (Ephesians 4:15, 25, 29).

Wisdom is the Greek word sophia. It means heavenly insight that is extremely practical. That’s what we need when we admonish those we love. This word means to warn people if they are on a wrong path. We love them enough to speak a loving word of warning (Proverbs 27:5-6).

And we sing out of our abundant overflow. The word of Christ dwells in us so richly that it literally bursts out of us in song! Have you ever been around someone so full of God’s presence that their words almost seem to be a song?

But don’t miss out on this. The lavish gift God wants to pour out on people is YOU! Notice how many times the pronoun you is used in Colossians 3:15-17. YOU are God’s gift to your family, your friends, your co-workers, your community!

Don’t rob others of this amazing gift by becoming ungrateful.

Grateful is graceful. 
Graceful is thankful. 
Thankful is worshipful.
Worshipful is God-full.

“The essence of Christianity is that we give the Son of God a chance to live and move and have His being in us, and the meaning of all spiritual growth is that He has an increasing opportunity to manifest Himself in our mortal flesh.” —Oswald Chambers

What will you do to remain thank-full, and remain God’s lavish gift to others?

Part three of our 3-part series on gratitude is coming up this Sunday. If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, I would be so thank-full to have you come join us!

No Kindas

no kindasAmaziah could have been one of Judah’s great kings. His father had cleaned up the Temple and had begun a revival of worship of God. When he came to the throne, Amaziah quickly led his army to an impressive victory over the Edomites.

That’s when things started to unravel.

Actually, things were beginning to come apart right from the start of Amaziah’s reign, but no one seemed to notice.

We get the clues in the language the biblical writers use. Amaziah frequently had a “but” or a “however” attached to what he did. Notice—

  • Amaziah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, BUT not as his father David had done” (2 Kings 14:3).
  • He worshiped God “HOWEVER the high places [of pagan worship] were not removed” (14:4).
  • He rallied his fighting men for battle BUT “he also hired a hundred thousand [mercenary] fighting men from Israel” (2 Chronicles 25:6).
  • Amaziah led his army to victory over the Edomites with God’s help BUT “he brought back the gods of the people of [Edom] … bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them” (25:14).
  • The king of Israel warned Amaziah not to attack Israel “HOWEVER Amaziah would not listen” (25:20).

Not only did these BUTS and HOWEVERS take Amaziah farther away from God, they took him farther away from his people too: “From the time Amaziah turned away from following the Lord, they conspired against him in Jerusalem (25:27).

There is no “kinda” following God. It’s all-in or nothing. My heart is either fully devoted to God with no BUTS or HOWEVERS, or am I moving away from God and from others around me.

It should be a huge warning sign when I hear myself say “but” or “however” in regard to anything involved with following my God.

Very Busy Or Too Busy

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been extremely busy. In some ways that’s a good thing: ministry is happening, relationships are developing, business is taking place.

But…

…there’s a danger when very busy becomes too busy.

How do I know I’ve crossed the line? I think this quote from Billy Graham sums it up:

“We hurt people by being too busy. Too busy to notice their needs. Too busy to drop that note of comfort or encouragement or assurance of love. Too busy to listen when someone needs to talk. Too busy to care.”

If someone needs me and I’m too busy to give them me, then very busy has become too busy.

How do you know if you’ve gotten too busy?

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