Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Opens the Door to BFF Relationship

As a young man I loved airplanes, especially when they took off or landed. So it probably follows that my thoughts during sleep one night floated in this direction.  In my dream I was overwhelmed with the power and beauty of a large 747 landing on the airport runway just a few feet away from me.  My heart pounded at the awesome grace and consuming noise.  Then the words came to me, "the great thing about this is that it will just get better and better forever!"  When I awoke that phrase resounded in my thinking and I felt God was moving my attention to something far more significant than airplanes landing that would get better and better forever.
This week I was reminded again about this great promise and truth as we were teaching our students at school the value and place of thanksgiving in God's kingdom.  Psalm 100 instructs us to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  However, once we enter with thanksgivng and go into His courts with praise, then what we do?
I am going to suggest we simply stop, be still, and look at Him.  Know that you are in the awesome presence of the living God, and Jesus Christ, who revealed the Father's love on earth through His taking our place in paying the price of death for our sins.  Take time to behold Him as He really is, One who is both overwhelmingly majestic and yet also who passionately enjoys you. The more we wait in His presence and experience His consuming love the more we are changed.  In His light we become light, meaning our heart and thoughts and emotions start becoming like Him.  God's original purpose for man is to walk with Him and share His nature, so after giving thanks and praise, we are invited by God to stand with Him.
Paul had an understanding of this mystery, as quoted in Philippians, expressing his greatest desire as "to know Him and the power of His resurrection."  Likewise, in Colossians 1:10 he prays we will be fruitful and well pleasing to God as we increase in the knowledge of Him.
Being transformed into God's glorious nature is described in 2 Corinthians 3:18 as a work of the Holy Spirit, which happens as we look upon His glory and greatness.  We can humbly come to Jesus and ask Him to help us see His face, His nature, His substitutional death and overcoming resurrection, and simply enjoy being with Him.   As we behold and consider Him, God promises to change us from glory to glory, strength to strength, and from our fallen nature into His light.
"This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" the Father declared over Jesus after his baptism in the Jordan.   However, since God is no respecter of persons and He declares in His Word that He loves each one of us the same as He loves Jesus, this incredible affection is extended beyond Jesus.  For a moment close your eyes and imagine God the Father saying to you, "You are My beloved son (daughter) in whom I am well pleased."  And for the rest of eternity, this absolutely amazing love and glorious relationship will increase and continue to be revealed to you until you share the fullness of God, know His love for you, and enjoy the glory of being one with Him.   No wonder it only gets better and better forever!
Giving thanks is the door.  Jesus and the opportunity to know Him is the reward waiting to happen.  Jesus prays to His Father in John 17:22-26 for us to receive His glory and the love with which the Father loved Jesus.  God waits to give us and help us know an eternal, ever-increasing love that overcomes all and is permanently sealed with the only true BFF (Best Friend Forever!).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Shall the Righteous Do?

If the foundations are shaken, what shall the righteous do? Psalm 11 further asks how can you say "Flee as a bird to the mountains" rather than trust God.  That the godly foundation of America is shaken is unquestionable.  No wonder many Christians feel like running away from it all. 
One of the realities of the recent election is that the majority of Americans voted for those who favor killing babies in abortion and perverting marriage with acceptance of homosexuality.  God's principles were simply not important enough or considered too narrow. Even strong pleas from godly leadership like David Barton and Billy Graham were unheeded.
  Abraham Lincoln wisely stated that what happens in the schools in one generation will be in the government in the next.  So it follows that since God and His Ten Commandments were thrown out of our schools in the sixties, that this generation has grown into the adults that have no place for God's standards in the election of today.
  Which brings us to the original question, what shall the righteous do? Rather than run, it is time to turn to God and cry out for mercy.  A bedrock principle is that God is not mocked.  Judgment will surely follow any country that slaughters innocent babies and perverts the godly ordinance of marriage and the God-given purpose of sex.  The only hope is for someone to stand in the gap and intercede for the land.      
  God would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah for 10 righteous people. The 2 Chronicles 7:14 promise still stands today, if God's people in America will humble themselves and pray, turning from their wicked ways, then God will hear from heaven and heal our land.  Obviously God delights in mercy.  He takes no pleasure in the death and judgment of the wicked.  He longs to rescue the lost and to change the hearts of men.  So a major part of His plan is calling intercessors to turn whole-heartedly to Him and to seek Him with humble repentance and worshipful praise. 
God has warned in Isaiah 60 that darkness will cover the earth, but His light and glory will be seen on you (believers).  So even if there is gross darkness in the hearts of voters who give approval of abortion and homosexuality, God hasn't given up.  He is seeking those who will respond to the challenge by diligently seeking His face and obeying the leading of His Spirit to stand as a light in the midst of a "crooked and perverse" generation.  Stand in the gap and cry out for mercy, with praise and thanksgiving to an absolutely wonderful Father who cares infinitely much about His children.  His glory will be seen upon you.